Environmental groups allege G&F 'fast-tracked' grizzly hunt plan, file suit

Friday, Jim Laybourn (a Wyoming wildlife filmmaker), The Humane Society of the United States, and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit challenging the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission’s alleged efforts to limit public comment "in order to fast-track approval of the state’s first trophy hunt of grizzly bears in 40 years." Citizens concerned with the proposed hunting were given 30 days to review the proposed management plan for the trophy hunt, and shortly thereafter the Commission voted unanimously to approve the plan. The Commission simultaneously adopted a tri-state memorandum of agreement with Idaho and Montana to formalize quotas for grizzly hunts, allocating over 50% of the quota to Wyoming. Laybourn, a lifelong Wyoming resident who has spent thousands of hours observing grizzly bears in the field, said “I am deeply concerned about the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission’s apparent lack of respect for the will of the public. Grizzly bears are the keystone species of both our ecosystem and our economy, worth tens of millions in tourism dollars each year. The management plan will remain fatally flawed until the Commission gives the community whose livelihood depends on grizzlies an opportunity to make their voices heard.” According to the plaintiffs: by specifically targeting the biggest and strongest males, trophy hunting reduces the genetic viability of a species and has cascading impacts on the social dynamics of apex predators, including increasing infanticide. “The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission has once again ignored scientific evidence and promoted the persecution of large carnivores,” said Anna Frostic, senior attorney for wildlife litigation at The Humane Society of the United States. “The public must be given ample time to scrutinize any proposal to commercialize our wildlife heritage.” In March of this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to delist grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem and turn their management over to the states. In return, Wyoming approved a management plan that includes the outline of a trophy-hunting season. The plaintiffs are seeking to reopen the comment period on the state proposals in order to allow members of the public the "appropriate time" to comment. The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys from The Humane Society of the United States, the Center for Biological Diversity, and local counsel Megan Hayes. *photo h/t Eunice Mushitz / Pitchengine Communities* #county10 #buckrail #reboot #news