I had a close encounter with a grizzly bear

I've always felt a spiritual connection with grizzly bears. They're slow, chunky and have an overwhelming affection for peanut butter--just like I do. From time to time, I'm fortunate enough to spot one, or at least the signs of one's passing, while we're in Alberta. But, as they generally don't want anything to do with people, being able to spend a prolonged amount of time with one is an incredible treat.

It's a treat that I had the opportunity to partake in earlier today.

Around 30 minutes outside of Bozeman, Montana, we saw the first sign for it: Montana Grizzly Encounter. I wasn't into it at first: captive bears aren't cool. I checked out their website as we drove. Rescue bears. Rescue bears are very cool. Five minutes later we were pulling into the Montana Grizzly Encounter. Sixteen bucks for two adults and a score of steps later, we were in.

MGE was founded in 2004 and has been giving homes to bears rescued from cruel captivity ever since. Five of the six bears that MGE shelters were rescued from inhumane situations from all across the United States. Their sixth bear, Bella, was an orphan discovered in Alaska. On her own, she wouldn't have stood a chance. At the sanctuary, she's living the best life that she possibly can. You won't find any bars or cages at MGE. The bears have a temperature controlled enclosure that they can enter or exit as they please. There's a large area for the bears to do bear things in outside of the public eye. Read the rest

Yellowstone grizzly bear hunt cancelled thanks to court ruling

In the midst of yet another shitty news cycle, it's nice to hear that great things can still happen.

Earlier this year, the state of Wyoming said "yeah" to allowing a maximum of 22 grizzly bears, once sheltered as a protected species, to be hunted. Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen said "nah" to hunters gearing up to shoot at grizzly bears that call the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem home.

From Earther:

In his order, Christensen made clear that the case “is not about the ethics of hunting, and it is not about solving human- or livestock-grizzly conflicts as a practical philosophical manner.”

Instead, the case was about whether the decision to de-list this segment of the Lower 48 grizzly population was scientifically sound. (Grizzly bears as a whole still enjoy endangered species protections across the Lower 48.) Christensen felt that it wasn’t, writing that FWS “failed to consider how reduced protections in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem would impact the other grizzly populations.”

The ruling drew heavily on a case the federal agency lost last year, when its decision to de-list Western Great Lakes region gray wolves was vacated in court for failing to consider species-wide impacts.

In the United States, there's only around 1,800 grizzly bears roaming Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Idaho and Montana. That's far from what I or any ecologist (of which I am not) would call a recovered species. Earther points out that while the Yellowstone grizzly population has rebounded in recent years, it's still isolated from other populations. Read the rest

A guerilla campaign to save grizzly bears in Wyoming is underway

Renowned environmentalist and chimpanzee buddy Jane Goodall has her fingers crossed: she’s entered the lottery to win the right to kill a grizzly bear in the area of Yellowstone Park. That Wyoming’s allowing the bears to be hunted is a big deal. There’s been a moratorium on taking down a grizzly bear in Wyoming for the past 44 years. This year, the state is allowing 22 of them to be killed by hunters.

But, instead of taking down a furry behemoth so that she might eat its steaming heart to celebrate her kill, Goodall, and a growing number of other people, have a better idea of what to do if they win the right to shoot a grizzly: they’re advocating that folks take that shot with a camera instead of a gun.

Shoot ‘em With A Camera is a guerrilla campaign to undermine Wyoming’s bear hunt lottery system. The premise is simple: Apply to the bear hunt lottery for your chance to kill a magnificent creature. Then, should you win, instead of heading to the hills with a rifle, you head out with a camera. It’s a cheeky campaign and according to National Geographic, its gaining momentum, quickly.

Not everyone, however is thrilled about it.

From National Geographic:

Brian Nesvik, chief game warden with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, is not so enamored. He acknowledged he was surprised at how fast the campaign mobilized, heightening a level of drama that was already unprecedented given that it involves the wildlife symbol of the Yellowstone region.

Read the rest

Yellowstone Grizzly Bear to be taken off Endangered Species list. Thanks, Trump.

They've been on the Endangered Species list for 42 years. Today, Trump removed the Yellowstone grizzly bear's federal protections under the Endangered Species Act. The reason? A reported population rebound. The U.S. Department of Interior announced their plan to strip the grizzly's protections and return species oversight to the states. Read the rest