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The Latest: Wyoming approves 1st grizzly hunt since 1970s

The Latest on a vote in Wyoming that would allow grizzly bears to be hunted for the first time since 1974:

3:15 p.m.

For the first time in 40 years, Wyoming Game and Fish commissioners have given final, unanimous, approval to a grizzly bear hunting season. The decision follows months of public meetings and discussions.

The draft quota inside the “demographic monitoring area,” which is the area deemed as suitable habitat, is 11 bears. There is a conservative one-bear female sub-quota. Allowable mortality limits were developed using a pre-set formula outlined in a cooperative agreement between the states of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. Another 12, male or female, could be hunted in what state officials describe as the more “human-dominated landscape” outside that area.

The cost of grizzly bear licenses was set in law by the Wyoming legislature. It is $600 for residents and $6,000 for non-residents. A new regulation clarifies that hunters who are high enough on a license issuance list will be required to submit payment for their license fee and proof of a hunter education certificate within 10 days of notification.

The regulation establishes 10-day hunt periods for those hunting in areas 1-6.

“I want to thank all of the people who came to today’s meeting to participate in the process. Additionally, thousands of people commented online and truly made this regulation a better regulation,” said Scott Talbott, director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. “Many, many people have been part of this process since last fall in helping to set a direction for all grizzly bear management, from education, conflict reduction to hunting. Wyoming is committed to ensuring a recovered population to provide opportunity for anyone who is interested in grizzly bears and this decision is part of our management.”

Key parts of the approved plan were based on public input. They include mandatory education for grizzly bear hunters, hunt areas and regulations to direct harvest to areas with higher potential for grizzly bear and human conflicts, a closed portion of a hunt area next to Grand Teton National Park to support the wildlife viewing tourism economy, and a prohibition against hunting grizzly bears near highways.

Grizzly bears in Wyoming have exceeded recovery criteria since 2004. Management of the species was returned to the state last year.

2:20 p.m.

Wyoming has approved its first hunt of grizzly bears in 44 years.

The hunt this fall will be the biggest in the lower 48 states since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed protections for grizzlies in the Yellowstone region in 2017.

The hunt’s rules will allow up to 22 grizzlies to be killed in a wide area east and south of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission heard from hunt supporters and opponents before voting unanimously in favor of it Wednesday.

Supporters say Wyoming’s grizzly population can easily sustain limited hunting. Hunt opponents question that claim.

Idaho has approved hunting one grizzly this fall. Montana has decided for now that it will not allow grizzly bear hunting.

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1 p.m.

People on both sides of a debate over whether Wyoming should allow grizzly bear hunting for the first time since the early 1970s are speaking up.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission plans to vote on a proposed grizzly hunt Wednesday.

Bonnie Rice with the Sierra Club tells commissioners ahead of the vote that the hunt would be irresponsible. Rice says grizzlies still face a range of threats and allowing them to be hunted could set back conservation efforts by decades.

Wyoming rancher and former Game and Fish commissioner Charles Price says hunting should be part of controlling grizzly bear numbers.

If approved, the hunt would allow as many as 22 grizzlies to be hunted this fall in a wide area outside Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.

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12:00 a.m.

Wyoming will decide Wednesday whether to allow grizzly bear hunting for the first time in decades.

Under the proposed rules before the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, hunting would begin Sept. 1 in the mountains and basins farthest from Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Hunting closer to the parks would begin Sept. 15 and end in all areas by Nov. 15.

Environmental groups and Native American tribes say the hunt would undermine decades of work to restore grizzlies in the Yellowstone ecosystem. About 700 grizzlies now inhabit the region that includes parts of Idaho and Montana.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed protections for Yellowstone-area grizzlies in 2017 after listing them as a threatened species since 1975.

Montana has not yet allowed grizzly hunting. Idaho will allow one grizzly to be hunted this fall.

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