The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports that the killing of grizzly bear No. 760 by Wyoming Game & Fish has drawn a petition drive and protest by Jackson residents who think the bear should not have been destroyed. The reasons Game & Fish have given for putting this bear down should be considered: The young male had repeatedly ventured into developed areas and had to be relocated two times previously; No. 760 had a tendency to be near people; It received a food reward outside of a residence; there was an encounter with two people in a vehicle when the bear approached the vehicle and was indifferent to them; the bear had previously charged an individual in his front yard.
It would seem that residents around Clark, Wyoming, about 30 miles North of Cody and the location of the bear when it was killed, had reason to be concerned. Grizzly attacks in the area have occurred all too often in the past. A man was attacked near Clark a few years ago and would surely have been killed if he had been armed and successfully defended himself. A retired wildlife biologist was killed by a grizzly just a couple of years ago near Cody. There have been numerous other such incidents in the general area.
The protesters have about 250 signatures on a petition so far. Some Jackson residents have romanticized grizzlies to the point of living up to a claim I have made that if there is to be an encounter between a human and a grizzly such that only one of them is going to remain alive when the encounter ends, some people in the Jackson area want it to be the bear. That’s not just a romantic notion about a dangerous animal. To my mind, it’s a thoughtless misanthropic attitude by self absorbed egocentric individuals who would never think the same way if it were they facing a deadly threat from the animal they profess to love.
Grizzlies should have long ago been removed from the Federal endangered species list because their numbers have proliferated in recent years to the point they are not facing any of the dangers endangered status is supposed to protect them from. In fact, anyone who truly loves and respects the big bears should encourage legal hunting of them. The hunting organizations and sportsmen are much better stewards of the animals they hunt than protesters with petitions. An added salutary effect of hunting is that hunted animals are better behaved toward humans, and generally prefer to avoid humans. That would be a good thing for everyone, including the bears.