A new national poll shows that the majority of voters oppose the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to remove grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the list of federally threatened and endangered species.
Majorities across all demographics, party affiliations and geographic regions of the United States oppose the proposed delisting, which would hand over management of GYE grizzlies to Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. The states have signaled they will open up trophy hunting seasons on bears.
The FWS estimates around 700 grizzlies live in the ecosytem and that there may be as few as 800 to 1,000 in the entire lower 48 states, in contrast to the 50,000 grizzly bears historical estimates suggest once roamed North America.
The poll, announced by The Humane Society of the United States, showed that more than two-thirds of Americans oppose opening up a trophy hunting season on grizzly bears in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
Also, a two-thirds majority supports the idea of a five-year moratorium on trophy hunting to ensure the full recovery of the grizzly bear population.
The poll also shows that an even larger majority of American voters — 80 percent —oppose allowing state managers to use certain trophy hunt methods, like hounding— where packs of radio-collared dogs chase bears into trees — and baiting — where piles of rotten and junk foods are used to lure bears in for an easy kill.
Nicole Paquette, vice president of wildlife protection of The Humane Society of the United States said in a statement released this week, “These polling results demonstrate that most Americans believe Yellowstone’s grizzly bears should not be killed for trophies. Not only is there no scientific justification for this premature proposal, there is no public appetite. Grizzly bears are far from recovered and face a range of threats including the loss of critical food sources like white bark pine. We don’t want trophy hunting added to that list of threats.”
“The prospect of a hunt is especially troubling, but we were pleased to see that even 50 percent of hunters nationwide oppose delisting of grizzlies, compared to only 33 percent who support it,” added Kent Nelson, executive director for Wyoming Wildlife Advocates. “It’s also gratifying to see that a full 62 percent of hunters support a five-year moratorium on delisting, while just 33 percent support it. This is telling.”
Both groups urged the FWS to reject the proposal and they are encouraging supporters to submit comments by May 10 asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to maintain ESA protections.
About the poll
Q: What is your opinion of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?
No opinion: 29%
Q: Should Yellowstone’s grizzly bears lose their Endangered Species Act protections, management of these animals revert to Idaho, Montana and Wyoming who have stated they will open up a trophy hunting season. Do you agree or disagree that there should be at least a 5-year moratorium on trophy hunting to ensure that the population is fully recovered?