My name is Joe Kondelis and I am the founder of the Yellowstone Country Bear Hunter’s Association. We are very grass roots right now and we started this Non-Profit out of a necessity.
There is very little support for the Bear hunter or Black bears in general in these western states. Many of our states resources go into deer, elk, wolf, moose and the grizzly bear. I and many other ardent hunters live right on the edge of Yellowstone Park and are on the forefront of the grizzly bear/wolf situation; it has now become a fact of life around these states and will continue to be. We feel this increase in a large predator could adversely affect black bear populations and a deter state and federal focus from a continued study and understanding on the black bear and black bear hunting opportunities. In these times it is essential to study and better understand the black bear and its habitat, more importantly how the black bear can co-exist with a much larger predator in the grizzly bear.
I recently read an article recently in bear hunting magazine giving Black Bear population estimates in all the States in the US. Wyoming could not give an estimate. I was frustrated to say the least, We have countless resources being expended on the grizzly bear whether it be a state organization or the 3 state encompassing Grizzly Bear Inter-agency Study Team funded by the much larger USGS. The lack of proper management through hunting season is also costing our states thousands of dollars through agricultural and livestock reimbursement, increasing needs for trapping and relocating is also costing our states thousands of dollars. State agencies are forced to put more people on staff to manage conflicts and relocation costing time and money. This increase has to come at the cost of other species and agencies in the state. Human/grizzly bear conflicts are increasing dramatically
Well managed hunting seasons for the grizzly bear will increase revenue for the state and effectively manage the grizzly bear for the state in turn saving money for wildlife agencies to spend on other species and programs.
In a recent report published by the Grizzly bear Inter-agency Study Team 1999-2008 elk hunter numbers in the Grizzly Recovery Area have decreased by approximately 11,839 in the 3 states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. In said time frame Wyoming elk hunter numbers have declined by over 7,000 in the Grizzly Bear Recovery Area. This is negatively impacting state economies as well as regional economies that are dependent on revenue from hunting season. Budgets and funding for research is also affected due to the decline in revenue from elk licenses. Another important thing to note is how hunting pressure and land use is adversely affected by people exploring new areas to hunt outside the grizzly recovery area. Have these states done there research on this effect, Are these states prepared for this change?
There are bear and bear hunting organizations all over the East and Midwest (i.e. Michigan Bear Hunters Association, Carolina Bear Hunters Association) but we are the first in the Rocky Mountains. We encompass the Yellowstone Bordering states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.
One of our major goals will be to work with local and state government in an effort to De-list the grizzly bear and be diligent in getting a grizzly bear hunting season in the states of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. We will also be proactive in working with state and local wildlife officials on human bear conflicts and educating the public on causes. We feel this may reduce human bear issues and reduce the amount of bears euthanized by government officials. We also will be adamant about bringing youth into bear hunting, it is so very important to continue this great tradition with our kids. We feel it will be very important to work hand in hand with all wildlife organizations such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Sportsman For Fish and Wildlife, and the Mule Deer Foundation to name a few. We feel a united front across all lines is important and we must unite to protect our rights as outdoorsman and ensure the heritage of hunting and fishing will be one our children and grand children can share.
Through our efforts we hope to increase black bear and grizzly bear hunting opportunities through habitat management and a better understanding of bear populations. A big start in the right direction would be to have all 3 states in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem conduction large scale Black Bear studies similar to the grizzly bear studies going on currently.