The news on Thursday September 13th that Judge Dana Christiansen has given grizzly bears another two weeks reprieve from being hunted as trophies in Idaho and Wyoming, comes as a huge relief to grizzly bear license holder and Cougar Fund co-founder, Thomas D. Mangelsen. This shouldn’t surprise you as Tom has spent a lifetime chronicling the lives of wildlife and sharing intimate photographic records of their beauty, their behavior, and their contribution to the environment. Tom’s art has been to reveal nature’s art to a wider audience through the lens of his camera. His success in being randomly drawn for a Wyoming grizzly bear license, that he only intends to use to photograph, has inspired support for grizzly bears through publicity from as near as Wyoming and as far away as french icon, La Monde. In between, the Washington Post, the New York Times and 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper have told Tom’s story of reverence and support for the grizzly…and the public has heard the message loud and clear!
Though Tom may not be able to use his license to hunt an image, he, and many others are cautiously optimistic that the judge will rule, not only in favor of the litigants but in favor of the bears themselves. Tom’s work has shown many people the value and beauty of ‘nature alive’.
What Tom hangs on his wall is still out there, somewhere, living a wild and authentic life, only sharing the fleeting image of its existence!
The overview of today’s extended delay to the Idaho and Wyoming hunts can be found in this press release by the Western Environmental Law Center and WildEarthGuardians.
Yellowstone grizzlies: Court blocks ID, WY trophy hunts for 14 more days
MISSOULA, Mont. —Today, a U.S. District Court judge extended a temporary restraining order to block planned grizzly bear trophy hunts in Idaho and Wyoming for 14 more days while he prepares a ruling. The judge may only renew a temporary restraining order such as this once, so if there is no decision in the case over the next 14 days, wildlife advocates will request an injunction stopping the hunt until a decision is made.
“We are gratified Yellowstone’s beloved bears are once again safe from trophy hunters’ bullets,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians. “We look forward to the judge’s thoughtful resolution of the deep flaws with the feds’ removal of protections from these imperiled bears.”
“We appreciate that Judge Christensen is preventing any unnecessary bloodshed while he deliberates on this important case,” said Matthew Bishop, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center. “There is simply no need to rush into a grizzly bear hunt, with potentially devastating consequences for this iconic species, when the merits of that hunt are being reviewed in federal court.”
Grizzlies in the Yellowstone region remain threatened by dwindling food sources, climate change, small population size, isolation, habitat loss and fragmentation, and high levels of human-caused mortality. The Yellowstone population is isolated and has yet to connect to bears elsewhere in the U.S., including to bears in and around Glacier National Park. Grizzlies also have yet to reclaim key historic habitats, including the Bitterroot Range along the Montana-Idaho border.
Hunted, trapped, and poisoned to near extinction, grizzly bear populations in the contiguous U.S. declined drastically from nearly 50,000 bears to only a few hundred by the 1930s. In response to the decline, the Service designated the species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1975, a move that likely saved them from extinction. The species has since struggled to hang on, with only roughly 1,800 currently surviving in the lower 48 states. Grizzlies remain absent from nearly 98 percent of their historic range. Last year (2017) marked the highest mortality for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s grizzlies since their ESA listing.
Grizzly bear mortality in 2018 is proceeding at a record pace, even without the added mortalities from trophy hunting which would have claimed up to 22 more. At last count, approximately 690 grizzly bears resided in the Greater Yellowstone region, down from 2015’s count of 717 bears. The last three years had near record-breaking grizzly mortality, with at least 41 bears killed in 2017, and an additional 15 listed as probable mortalities. Of this, at least 32 were killed by humans, and humans were responsible for at least 9 of the 15 probable deaths. As of this writing, 42 grizzlies are on the 2018 known and probable mortalities list for the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, far outpacing previous years’ rates.