- Despite its necessity, hunting as a tool for predator management has come under increased and misguided scrutiny from anti-hunting and animal rights organizations, sometimes resulting in the relisting of otherwise recovered species on the Endangered Species Act.
- For years the outdoor sporting community has been reactionary in simply trying to maintain the role of hunting in predator management, however, it is time for that to change.
- The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) joined the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, American Bear Foundation and 12 other hunting conservation organizations on a coalition letter, urging the Wyoming legislature to support legislation that would update wanton waste requirements as it relates to large carnivore hunting and remove “Trophy Game Animal” as the language used for bears, lions, and wolves within the state statute and regulation.
Why It Matters: Controversy over predator management has continued to dominate conversations and headlines nationwide. It is imperative that the outdoor sporting community learn from past failures and proactively address its weak points before they are exploited by the opposition. Our ability to hunt large carnivores like bears, wolves, and mountain lions in the future depends on it.
Large carnivore hunting across the country has been under constant scrutiny for the last 20 years or more. While opponents focus on large carnivore hunting, their goal is to limit or eliminate hunting in its entirety. States once thought to be strongholds are beginning to feel the pressure from a growing anti-hunting presence. Anti-hunting efforts have increased in recent years often fueled by outdated laws and regulations that use language that has since been weaponized in the public narrative. This situation often leaves wildlife policy as a political pawn for policymakers without a full understanding of the consequences to on the ground management. This is particularly true of species listed under the Endangered Species Act, like grizzly bears.
Endangered species management requires action at several levels of government. Sustainably delisting a species requires responsible state management. As the outdoor sporting community works to delist charismatic large carnivores in Washington D.C., we must also advocate for their responsible management in our respective state legislatures. In 2017 after nearly 50 years of recovery work by the states, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) population of grizzly bears was delisted. Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming state management plans had been presented and accepted by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Wyoming, with the majority of the GYE grizzly bear population and conflict issues, proposed as part of its management plan, a highly regulated hunt. Despite extreme regulation and communication efforts on behalf of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, anti-hunting groups were able to spin an effective narrative claiming that hunters motivated by the pursuit of a “trophy” would cause a lack of respect for these animals which lead to an eventual re-listing decision in 2018.
While the unwarranted return of charismatic large carnivores like the grizzly bear and gray wolf to the Endangered Species List continues to hinder effective wildlife management and conflict mitigation by the state, the outdoor sporting community has learned the opposition’s talking points. In order to thwart future efforts, we must take away their talking points. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation joined the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, American Bear Foundation, and 12 other hunting conservation organizations on a coalition letter, urging the Wyoming legislature to support legislation that would update wanton waste requirements as it relates to large carnivore hunting and remove “Trophy Game Animal” as the language used for bears, lions, and wolves within the state statute and regulation. By doing so, Wyoming would be destabilizing key talking points that have historically and successfully been used in arguments against the use of hunting as a management tool for these species.