The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is moving forward with the next steps for grizzly bear management in Wyoming, thanks to lots of great input from the public. Wildlife managers are now developing and revamping priorities for management guided by input from public discussion forums held across the state this fall and winter. These meetings brought out hundreds of people with many helpful ideas on the main components of Wyoming’s Management Plan; research, education, population monitoring, conflict management and hunting.
To recap what Game and Fish heard and how the input will be used, Chief Game Warden Brian Nesvik and Large Carnivore Section Supervisor, Dr. Dan Thompson, will hold a discussion on Facebook Live. This will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at 12 noon. Anyone can watch via the Game and Fish Facebook page.
The major themes from the meetings included prioritizing:
- Population monitoring: population estimates, conflict mitigation, technology and climate impacts
- Research: accurate population counts, impact of hunting on behavior, interactions with other animals, predation moth ecology and body condition
- Conflict management: education, relocation, hunting, livestock, costs and department transparency
- Bear Wise-Outreach and education: increase visibility, more information, public involvement
- Hunting: education requirements, regulations and draw requirements, impact on behavior, buffers/protections, bear spray usage, tourism and considerations of no hunting.
“The public was actively engaged, thoughtful and also respectful of the many different viewpoints on grizzly bear conservation and management,” said Dan Thompson, Game and Fish large carnivore section supervisor.
Thompson said the Large Carnivore Section has already begun to implement suggestions from the public, especially the desire for more information and resources. Bear Wise Wyoming, the Game and Fish bear education program, recently hired a full-time, permanent coordinator to help develop information on safety and resources for the public.
“Bear Wise is the foundation for grizzly bear management and preemptive conflict management,” Thompson said. “The public can anticipate more information on grizzly bear management and hope folks will make time to attend Living in Large Carnivore Country Workshops in coming months.”
This January, bear managers presented the public comments to the Game and Fish Commission. As another aspect of the management plan, the Commission directed the department to develop a draft regulation for grizzly bear hunting. A public comment period on the proposal will start in March.
“Multiple protections continue to occur for grizzly bears, and any hunting program will ensure grizzly bear populations remain healthy and well above recovery standards while allowing for regulated hunting opportunity and management of this iconic species,” Thompson said. “While there is a lot of focus on this topic the other suggestions do not require Commission action so we can move ahead with those now.”
Other priorities within grizzly bear management now include further study and understanding of population and bear behaviors.
“Moving forward we are committed to a more accurate estimate of the population and have always been committed to reducing conflicts; but we are already digging deeper into our understanding of bear behaviors and management actions and will be analyzing and publishing results on some of our current activities to forge the future of the program,” said Thompson.
Game and Fish recently published its annual report on Grizzly Bear Management Captures, Relocations and Removals in Northwest Wyoming. Information about grizzly bear management and safety is available on the Game and Fish website.
Photo by Erin Bormett WGFD