December 12, 2019

Three Men Will Pay the Price of Killing Grizzly Bears

Dan Walters of Dry Ridge, Ky., shot a 300-pound, 7-year-old grizzly bear with a bow on Sept. 23, 2002. Walters pleaded guilty to killing the bear and was fined $15,000 and had his hunting privileges revoked for two years. The female bear, wearing a radio control collar, had a yearling cub.

The next day, Walters, along with two other hunting companions, went back to find the bear he had shot. Tim Brown and Brad Hoopes have both pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges. Brown for shooting a bear with a rifle and Hoopes for destroying government property. Both face jail time and up to $100,000 in fines.

The three men’s story goes that when they returned to find the bear Walters had shot (which he said he thought it was a black bear)and found it, the yearling cub charged the men. Hoopes shot an arrow at the bear in self defense and wounded the animal. Later Brown claims he shot the bear to put it out of its misery.

Officials who investigated the incident said the cub had not been wounded.

Hoopes’ charge of destroying government property was the radio collar that was worn by the mother bear – bear 346 known to the Inter-Agency Grizzly Bear Study Team. Hoopes and Brown took the collar to a creek bed and smashed it on the rocks and threw it in the creek.

Sentencing for Brown and Hoopes is scheduled for March 16, 2006 in Pocatello, Idaho.

Tom Remington

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Why Do the Animal Rights Groups in Idaho Not Trust the Fish and Game Department There?

Does anyone know? I haven’t been to Idaho since 1972 but from what I follow in the news and visiting the Idaho Fish and Game web site, I think they must be doing a respectable job managing the wildlife in that state.

This question of course is based on the controversy that continues since 1995 when wolves were re-introduced into the area. That is history and now there are wolves and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife is planning to remove the wolf from the endangered list soon in parts of the west and turn control of the animal over to the states.

There are whackos at either end of the spectrum. You have those that would do just about anything to protect the life of one animal and you have those who would kill any animal at the drop of a hat.

Somewhere in the middle there should be some sane discussion that would lead to sensible solutions to problems. But, for some reason, in Idaho it appears that animal rights groups have no faith in the Department of Fish and Game.

The most recent event is the Idaho Fish and Game has requested permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife to use helicopters to fly into the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness, a 2.4 million acre parcel that is protected by law – even landing a helicopter there would be unlawful unless it was necessary to save human life. Their intent is to put radio collars on about 16 wolves to be able to track the animal and learn more about its behavior.

This request falls in line with part of Idaho’s management plan that was submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife before turning the management over to them. In addition, Idaho is presently undertaking a game count of many of their larger game animals – something that is done about every 3-5 years – and officials felt it would be less intrusive to the wilderness to radio collar the wolf while they were already counting elk, deer, moose and other animals.

Advocates for the wolves say this is not necessary and will sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife if permission is granted. Others feel that the only intention of the Idaho Fish and Game is to find out where the wolves are so that when the wolf is removed from the endangered list, they can all be found and killed.

Proponents of the tracking plan say that to properly manage the animal, they must first get a better understanding of where the creature goes and what it does when it gets there.

The purists who would not want to see the wilderness blemished by the landing of a helicopter, need to be sensible about the reasoning behind it and get over the paranoia that Idaho wants to kill the wolves off.

There are some that do, but I think the track record of Idaho would indicate to most any reasonable human being that they do have the best interest of the wolf in mind.

Throwing animals into a wilderness preserve and not following through with sound management practices is a poor choice and a bad investment of taxpayer dollars. Differing opinions exist as to what good management practices are so do we simply introduce the animal and then let Mother Nature take its course?

We have learned over the years that man and beast must coexist and leaving the animals to fend for themselves is not in the best interest of the animal nor is it for man. The risk of disease to both animal and man is prevalent and with that the entire ecosystems in specific areas can be affected.

So, unless someone can show me a good reason why we shouldn’t trust the Idaho Fish and Game Department’s ability to manage the wolf and other wildlife, I’ll trust in what they are doing. I also believe that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife will not blindly hand over the management and care of the wolf to any state without some sort of checks and balances.

Previous posts on the wolf here, here, and here.

Tom Remington

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Gray Wolves to be Hunted Again

The Secretary of the Interior is expected to sign an agreement next week that would place control over management of the gray wolf into the hands of the states and out of the control of the Federal Government. When this happens states like Idaho, Montana and Wyoming intend to allow the animal to be hunted.
Gray Wolf
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

This of course has raised objections from mostly animal rights groups and in particular those that are focused on the gray wolves. Carter Niemeyer a self proclaimed educator, peacemaker, moderator and referee for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Boise, Idaho stands up for the wolf.

In contrast, Ron Gillett of the Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition, wants to see all the wolves gone completely. He says this about the gray wolf.

“…immediately remove them by whatever means are necessary.”

“They kill everything, all of the game first, then the predators, then each other,” he said, adding that they are outsiders.

“These are Canadian wolves,” Gillett said. “The only place they belong in Idaho is in a zoo, neutered.”

I’m not a rocket scientist but I think I know where Mr. Gillett stands on the gray wolf issues.

On the other hand, Niemeyer says that the gray wolf roamed the landscape in these areas long before man arrived and hunted them to near extinction. He also downplays the fact that the gray wolf preys on cattle owned by ranchers in the region. He says this about those who would disagree with him.

“But I know they don’t want to let facts get in their way,” he said of anti-wolf activists.

This is no new story. There has been a war brewing over the gray wolf for many years. Ranchers want them gone for the simple reason that wolves kill their cattle. Mr. Niemeyer states facts (his own) about the insignificant impact wolves have on cattle. As a rancher, losing one cattle is a substantial lost – at least from my perspective.

The agreement that has been reached with the Department of the Interior with the states, namely Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, is to allow ranchers the chance to kill wolves that are regularly preying on their cattle – or harassing them as was reported by MSNBC. It would also allow game officials to eliminate wolf numbers that are threatening a healthy population of deer and elk.

I don’t have a copy of the agreement to know exactly what it says but who and what determines when a wolf or pack of wolves regularly preys on cattle.

Idaho and Montana have approved plans in controlling the wolf but Wyoming is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife agency over the rejection of its plan, which would allow unregulated hunting of wolves outside of national parks and designated wilderness areas.

And so the posturing goes with the one side wanting to kill all wolves and the other side wanting wolves to have free rein. Stuck in the middle of this debate are the Wildlife Departments of each state feeling like an incompetent child. Does anyone believe that the states powers in this matter want to control and not eliminate the gray wolf?

When looking at other species of animals that were once placed on the endangered list, like the Canada lynx, and removed, behind it you will find a very competent game department that probably doesn’t get enough credit for making the change possible.

With the extremes of both sides warring, generally, consensus is reached and a sensible solution is put into place. Man must live with animals and animals must live with man – that, is a fact that isn’t going to change.

Tom Remington

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