If approved, the 2018 Wyoming grizzly bear hunt would be the first in the Continental United States since 1975.
The grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grew rapidly after receiving protection under the Endangered Species Act and met recovery goals in the early 2000s. For that reason, the United States Fish & Wildlife Service delisted that specific population of bears and turned their management back over to the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming in 2017. This decision opened the door for a possible Wyoming grizzly bear hunt this year.
After receiving strong support from many in the state, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department recently published a draft of regulations for a potential 2018 Wyoming grizzly bear hunting season. The draft regulations are available to view on the department’s website. WGFD is accepting public comments on the proposal until 5 p.m. April 30.
If approved, the 2018 Wyoming grizzly bear hunt would permit the harvest of up to 24 grizzly bears during a bear season lasting from Sept. 15-Nov. 15.
However, the proposed regulations also have a number of other safeguards to ensure hunters don’t harvest too many bears. And, the harvest total would likely fall well short of the maximum quota if the hunt goes forward.
For instance, the majority of the grizzly bears in Wyoming live in northwest part of the state in what’s known as the “Demographic Monitoring Area.” Hunting Areas 1-6 on the map below roughly encompass a large portion of that area.
The proposed regulations for the 2018 Wyoming grizzly bear hunt only permit a total harvest of up to 12 bears (2 females and 10 males) within Hunting Areas 1-6. Additionally, each hunting area also has a specific harvest limit: two bears for Hunting Area 1, one bear for Hunting Area 2, two bears for Hunting Area 3, three bears for Hunting Area 4, three bears for Hunting Area 5 and two bears for Hunting Area 6.
A total of 12 bears may be harvested in Hunting Area 7. However, most of this area is outside of the core grizzly bear population distribution at this time.
Grizzly bear hunting shall close in each individual hunting area when the quota is reached for that unit. Additionally, all grizzly hunting shall cease when one of the following happens: the total female quota (of 2) is reached, the total male quota (of 10) is reached or Nov. 15, whichever comes first.
Furthermore, WGFD would only allow up to two grizzly bear hunters to be afield at a time, in order to ensure hunters don’t exceed the collective female mortality limit. Once one female bear has been harvested, only one grizzly bear hunter can be afield at a time. That also means the hunt could potentially end if the first two hunters to receive tags harvest female grizzly bears.
Hunters interested in participating in the 2018 Wyoming grizzly bear hunt would have from July 2-16 to apply online. Residents would need to pay a $5 application fee and nonresidents would need to pay a $15 application fee. Nonresidents could take up to 25 percent of tags.
WGFD will randomly place all interested hunters on a list and offer tags to the first two hunters on the list. As long as WGFD determines that none of the conditions for ending the grizzly bear hunt have been met, it’ll continue to issue tags to hunters according to their order on the list. If selected, hunters must complete a grizzly bear identification class and purchase a grizzly bear tag ($600 for residents and $6,000 for nonresidents).
The 2018 Wyoming grizzly bear hunt wouldn’t permit any hunting within the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park or the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway. It also would also prohibit grizzly bear hunting within 1/4 mile of certain roads within Hunting Areas 1-6 as well as certain designated areas where wildlife viewing is popular.
No hunter would be permitted to harvest a grizzly bear cub or a female grizzly bear with cubs present. No hunter may use traps, snares, dogs or hunt with the aid of radio telemetry equipment. No hunter may use bait in Hunting Areas 1-6, either. All hunters must must report their harvests to WGFD within 24 hours.
Wyoming will be the only place to hunt grizzly bears in the United States outside of Alaska if the hunt goes forward.
Officials will make a final decision regarding the 2018 Wyoming grizzly bear hunt by May 23. Stay tuned for more details and don’t forget to let WGFD know what you think about the proposed grizzly bear hunt by leaving a comment on their website.