Well-known nature photographer Tom Mangelsen recently announced that he had drawn one of the 10 coveted tags to participate in Wyoming’s first grizzly bear hunt since the big bears became protected under the Endangered Species Act of 1975.
But he doesn’t plan to hunt with a gun, just his cameras.
“The time has come in 2018 to really think about the value of wildlife for what it is, for everybody,” Mangelsen told National Public Radio (NPR). “The public has a right to see bears and the hunters do not have the right to take that away from the public.”
On Instagram Mangelsen wrote, “There are certain circumstances that would keep me from getting in the field, but given the opportunity, you can be sure that I’ll be buying the (nonresident) $600 license and spending all of the allotted 10 days hunting with a camera. With only one person allowed in the field at a time (in the unit in which he drew), hopefully the 10 days I take up will save the lives of some of these amazing animals.”
That post was accompanied by a photo of a sow grizzly with two small cubs, perhaps giving the impression that the hunt is all about killing females and their young, when nothing could be further from the truth.
Mangelsen is not the only animal rights activist to apply for a license to hunt Wyoming grizzlies. Many others are applying and vowing to buy the required hunting license but not use it, thus depriving sportsmen of a chance of killing a bear. Kelly Mayor of Jackson, Wyoming also vowed to join the “Shoot ‘em With a Camera” crowd and not hunt after drawing a tag for hunt area 1-6. Nearly 7,000 people applied for one of the 22 available hunt tags.
According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, science soundly backs a grizzly hunt, with the bear’s population in the state growing to more than 700 in the last 42 years under Endangered Species Act protections. This is a number that easily exceeds the original target goals of the recovery program.
No hunts will take place within the boundaries of either Yellowstone or Grand Teton national parks, only areas adjacent to the parks. The season is set to run September 15 through November 15, or until the harvest quotas have been met. Permit holders will be allowed into the hunt area one at a time for a period of no more than 10 days, when their time will expire. This deadline was established by the Wyoming game department specifically to deter people like Mangelsen, Mayor and their anti-hunting brethren.
The irony is that their license money will go toward wildlife management. It is also a sign of the times when anti-hunting groups are showing more of a willingness to put their money where their convictions are and purchase limited-entry hunting tags to keep sportsmen from using them.
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Featured photo: National Park Service