Cheyenne – The Wyoming Game and Fish Department heard from hundreds of people about how it should implement its Grizzly Bear Management Plan. This winter there were public meetings across Wyoming and online. The feedback generated at these meetings will help guide how Game and Fish handles grizzly bear research, education, population monitoring, conflict management and hunting.
At the Game and Fish Commission’s meeting in Douglas today, chief game warden, Brian Nesvik presented a summary of the public feedback and how it will be used. The Commission then went on to direct the department to develop a draft regulation for grizzly bear hunting, with this direction a public comment period on the proposal will start in February.
“The people who took time to give us thoughts on grizzly bear management had many good ideas. This includes ramping up education about bears, involving citizen science to report grizzly sightings, ideas for new research topics, using non-lethal techniques to reduce conflicts and establishing regulated hunting,” said Nesvik. “We will be working to put these ideas into practice during the years to come.”
During the statewide meetings attendees were asked to discuss the five parts of the Wyoming Grizzly Bear Management Plan. Those are research, education, population monitoring, conflict management and hunting. The themes that emerged for each topic were:
Research – analysis of conflict resolution, improving the population estimate, study foods and body condition, and study interactions with other wildlife.
Education – provide more education and transparency, make information available more readily, teach how to use bear spray, and make funding available to partners for their work.
Population monitoring – the use of citizen science and allowing the public to report sightings. This was by far the most common comment.
Conflict resolution – explore alternative techniques including non-lethal and aversive conditioning, food storage regulations and enforcement, and improve education about the program.
Hunting – support for the use of this management technique, those that opposed or had concerns asked for the inclusion of regulations like mandatory education for hunters, hunting to remove problem bears, and a prohibition on baiting.
“Game and Fish thanks everyone who participated in these meetings. The conversations were civil and as you can see from the themes that emerged the discussion was productive and helpful,” said Nesvik. “We heard that not everyone supports grizzly bear hunting in Wyoming and we appreciate opposing views and will consider the ideas that came from this constituency.”
Once the Wyoming Game and Fish Department finishes drafting a hunting regulation it will make an announcement and start taking comments. There will also be in-person public meetings during the comment period.
Game and Fish is also committed to providing information on the implementation of the public’s ideas for grizzly bear management.