Texarkana, TX 88° Sun H 93° L 74° Mon H 90° L 71° Tue H 84° L 62° Weather Sponsored By:

Tribes seek ban on public hunting of revered grizzly bears

Tribes seek ban on public hunting of revered grizzly bears

May 16th, 2019 by Associated Press in National News

This undated file photo provided by the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks shows a sow grizzly bear spotted near Camas in northwestern Montana. Native American tribes are seeking permanent protections for the bruins, which would outlaw hunting regardless of the species' population size. (Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks via AP, File)

BILLINGS, Mont.—Native American leaders pressed lawmakers in Congress Wednesday to adopt permanent protections for grizzly bears, a species widely revered by tribes but that has been proposed for hunting in Wyoming and Idaho.

Proposed legislation would block grizzly hunting in the Lower 48 states, regardless of the species' population size, and allow for the reintroduction of bruins to tribal lands.

Grizzlies play a central role in the traditions and ceremonies of many tribes, said former Hopi Tribe chairman Benjamin Nuvamsa. Some Native Americans refer to them as "Uncle" or "Grandfather" and consider the animals to be healers.

"It's like the eagle; we don't shoot them because it's that sacred," said Nuvamsa, a member of the tribe's Hopi Bear Clan. "It has a really, really deep meaning for us, and we have to preserve and respect it."

But the push for permanent protections elicited sharp criticism from some Republicans as a House subcommittee took up the legislation. The backlash stems from growing pressure by state officials in the Northern Rockies to allow hunting because of grizzly attacks on livestock and occasionally people.

The House panel's ranking Republican, California Rep. Tom McClintock, said the proposal runs counter to the conclusions of government scientists. They say grizzlies have made significant strides toward recovery, particularly in and around Yellowstone National Park.

"The science tells us the population is fully recovered," McClintock said. "This bill substitutes emotional, ideological and sentimental biases that are the polar opposite of scientific resource management."

Montana Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte also spoke out against the bill. He noted that grizzlies increasingly are showing up in agricultural areas where there is greater risk of run-ins.

Last fall, a federal judge in Montana blocked grizzly hunts days before they were scheduled to begin. The ruling also restored threatened species status for about 700 bears in the three-state Yellowstone region.

An appeal filed by attorneys for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Grizzly bears were nearly exterminated across much of the U.S. by hunting and trapping early last century. They received federal protections in 1975, and they have since slowly rebounded in portions of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. Grizzly hunting is allowed in Alaska.

The move to make protections permanent is sponsored by Rep. Raul Grijalva, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. The Arizona Democrat said the intent was to recognize and honor the bear's unique place in Native American tradition, by giving them protections beyond what's offered under the Endangered Species Act.

"The pressure from Fish and Wildlife is going to continue in this administration, and it's going to continue for delisting," said Grijalva, referring to the agency's thwarted attempt to revoke the bruins' threatened species status. Such a move would transfer authority over the animals to state game agencies.

Hunting grizzlies "is not a sport to native peoples," Grijalva added.

Jonathan Wood, a research fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center, said the measure would discourage states and landowners from cooperating in future efforts to restore imperiled species and undermine the goal of restoring grizzlies to more of their historical range.

Grijalva has offered similar legislation before but it went nowhere. It stands a better chance of advancing with Democrats now in control of the House, but it would face a tougher road in the Senate.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Texarkana Gazette Comments Policy

The Texarkana Gazette web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Gazette web sites and any content on the Gazette web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Gazette, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Gazette web sites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Texarkana Gazette
15 Pine Street
Texarkana, TX 75501
Phone: 903-794-3311
Email: webeditor@texarkanagazette.com