Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, March 22, 2018

Contact:  Andrea Santarsiere, (303) 854-7748,

Idaho Proposes Cruel Trophy Hunt for Yellowstone's Grizzly Bears

Trump Administration's Premature Removal of Endangered Species Protection Allowed Destructive Hunt

VICTOR, Idaho— Less than a year after the Trump administration stripped Yellowstone's famed grizzly bears of Endangered Species Act protection, Idaho now joins Wyoming as the second state to move toward trophy hunting of grizzly bears for the first time in more than 40 years. 

Idaho’s Fish and Game Commission today decided to move forward to take public comment on a proposal to kill one grizzly bear through a hunt this fall. Bears that step outside the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park could be legally shot. 

“The prospect of trophy hunting is one of many reasons Yellowstone’s grizzly bears should never have lost endangered species protection,” said Andrea Santarsiere, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “I’m sickened that someone would want to kill one of these magnificent, imperiled animals just to hang a head on their wall.”

The proposal also risks violating a “memorandum of agreement” that Idaho signed with Wyoming and Montana, which divvies up hunting numbers based on the amount of grizzly bear habitat each state has. Under the agreement, in 2018 Idaho can allow the hunting of one male bear within the Demographic Monitoring Area — grizzly bear habitat within which the bear estimate is counted and mortality limits are applied — but Idaho cannot allow the hunting of any female bears. Because it is nearly impossible for hunters to tell the difference between an adult male and adult female grizzly bear, Idaho risks going beyond the limits it agreed upon with Wyoming and Montana.

“It is extremely irresponsible to risk the killing of a female bear in Idaho through proposing an unnecessary hunt,” said Santarsiere. “Wyoming and Montana should be concerned that Idaho is not standing behind promises it made to those states.”

Grizzly bear numbers in the Greater Yellowstone area increased after endangered species protections were granted in 1975. But the bears continue to be threatened by isolation from other grizzly populations, loss of key food sources and human-caused mortalities, now including hunting. Overall, grizzly bears occupy less than 4 percent of their historic U.S. range.    

Yellowstone’s bears have long been isolated from other bear populations, forcing the government to keep them on permanent life support by trucking bears in to avoid inbreeding. This fact further highlights the need for recovering grizzly bears in more places. 

“Idaho contains crucial habitat corridors that could help connect Yellowstone’s bears to other bear populations in northern Idaho,” said Santarsiere. “Killing bears that enter these lands will keep Yellowstone’s grizzlies isolated and could have long-term impacts on the population.”

This decision comes on the heels of a hunting season proposal by Wyoming two weeks ago. Wyoming is proposing to allow hunters to kill up to 24 bears, including permitting baiting techniques in some areas of the state.

Montana’s state game agency took the opposite approach, recommending no grizzly bear hunt this year. The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission adopted the recommendation Feb. 15.

“Montana made the right decision to not allow grizzly bear hunting this year and hopefully in future years,” said Santarsiere. “Idaho’s failure to follow suit is deeply disappointing.”

The proposal to allow hunting comes as key grizzly bear food sources in the heart of the Yellowstone ecosystem have been collapsing and grizzly mortality rates have been increasing. The dramatic decline of whitebark pine and Yellowstone cutthroat trout has prompted bears to eat more meat, such as big-game gut piles and livestock, resulting in increased grizzly bear mortality. Drought and climate change are likely to worsen these problems.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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