Two similar ongoing success stories of wildlife conservation taking place in two different ecosystems involving two different species recently moved into the public spotlight through two very different perspectives on conservation. If you caught my most recent post here, you are aware that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recently announced that “after more than 22 years of elk reintroduction efforts, 2018 will mark Wisconsin’s first managed elk hunt in state history.” Meanwhile, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has announced a proposed grizzly bear hunting season for the fall of 2018. Both Wisconsin’s elk reintroduction management and Wyoming’s grizzly bear recovery management, as part of the greater Yellowstone-Grand Teton National Parks Idaho/Montana/Wyoming Demographic Monitoring Area, are conservation success stories, and the state agencies are now moving towards one of the greatest conservation management tools at their disposal – hunting. However, the controversy surrounding these two conservation debates are as diverse as the battle between predator and prey.
According to the introduction for the Wyoming GFD YouTube video Yellowstone Grizzly Bears: A Success Story, published on May 14, 2013:
Grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem are thriving. The once-dwindling population of bears occupying areas of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming has been steadily increasing since 1981, when recovery efforts under the Endangered Species Act began. Managers are prepared with protections and practices in place to sustain a healthy Yellowstone grizzly bear population into the future. Years of collaboration and cooperation by multiple state and federal agencies — as well as public participation — contributed to the success of the species’ recovery. For more information on Yellowstone grizzly bears visit: Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee
Hunting as part of our outdoors heritage enables conservation management through humane population control while providing significant economic impact through hunt related expenses and hunter supported conservation programs. Sportsmen and women have traditionally been the most significant supporters of conservation for wildlife and wildlife habitat throughout American history. However, hunting as a conservation management tool remains as controversial as conservation management itself as demonstrated by tweets from the following conservation organizations and agencies:
Population control, coexistence, and economic impact are all realities of conservation management. Boundaries must be established and maintained without being compromised to preserve our last bastions of wilderness. Conservation requires a balance of management practices to sustain, nurture, and strengthen a population. Conservation is only made possible through cooperation.
- Grizzly bear hunting regulations proposed in Wyoming; rules would allow up to 24 bears to be killed in historic hunt (Christine Peterson, Casper Star Tribune, Mar 9, 2018)
- Wyoming Game and Fish Department Grizzly Bear Management
- Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Elk Information
- Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee
- Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
- Sierra Club