By Bonnie Rice, Sierra Club
Wyoming’s trophy hunt of grizzly bears is scheduled in less than 30 days. With little to no regret from the state and a corrupt and anti-environmental federal administration, the red-alert level is at an all-time-high. This hunt, though in only two states out west — Wyoming and Idah o– signals a dangerous trend that will be a detriment to our entire American wildlife system.
It’s no secret that Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has a vendetta against our nation’s most iconic wildlife, not to mention the wild spaces and public lands where they live. That mission to roll back protections for America’s favorite animals started with the Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear.
From Zinke’s final move to delist the grizzly up until the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission voted to move forward with a trophy hunt, the “process” revealed the cracks in a deeply flawed system where politics, profit, and shortsightedness trump cultural, scientific, and public input. Those problems were made clear when Zinke and his anti-wildlife friends in Wyoming failed and paid no heed to the over 200 Tribal Nations and communities who said a trophy hunt would be like suffering the death of their own family members — as the Tribes consider the grizzly bear sacred and have coexisted with the animal for time immemorial.
Source: from “Remaking the Sacred Hoop” documentary
Zinke, who boasts about his relationship with Tribal Nations out west, captained this neglect of Native American culture and a potential extinction disaster the day he jumped to delist the Yellowstone grizzly, just over a year ago. The Department of the Interior has never honored the call from Tribal Nations for federally mandated consultation on management of the Greater Yellowstone grizzly — even though Zinke testified to Congress that he has a moral and legal imperative to do so. He pushed out the Department of the Interior’s decision to delist later that very day.
The decision to delist itself was based on bad science and shortsightedness about the continued challenges the bears face — from climate change and dwindling food sources to increasing loss of habitat. Hundreds of thousands of emails and phone calls from scientists, wildlife photographers, conservationists, and wildlife lovers have been ignored, while Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho (three states notoriously hostile to carnivores) now control their future. What this means for that still-recovering population of bears and the communities who thrive in its existence is devastating already, and it foreshadows a grim future for our wildlife everywhere. It’s time to take action.