Extremists Sue Feds to End Bear Baiting in Two States

Extremists Sue Feds to End Bear Baiting in Two States

Photo credit: U.S. Geological Survey

Recently, three extremist animal rights/environmental groups filed suit against the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to stop hunters from using bait while hunting black bears in Idaho and Wyoming. In the lawsuit, the three groups contend that grizzly bears are being killed by black bear hunters using bait, and therefore, under the Endangered Species Act, the baiting must be prohibited.

According to Courthouse News, “WildEarth Guardians, Western Watersheds Project and Wilderness Watch filed the federal suit in Idaho. The groups say the government has violated the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act by allowing incidental kills of grizzlies by black bear hunters using bait. The suit seeks to force the Forest Service to stop allowing black bear baiting in areas of national forests in Wyoming and Idaho where grizzly bears may be.”

A related article by the Associated Press reported that the lawsuit contends eight grizzly bears have been killed by people hunting over bait since 1995 after being mistaken for black bears.  

Baiting of bears has a long history among hunters for a key reason: It works to bring in the otherwise wary bears close enough for a clean, ethical shot. Baiting also helps hunters manage predator populations which could otherwise become problematic. The close proximity allows them to ensure they are only targeting boars and not a sow with straggling cubs. 

Whether or not this lawsuit will gain any traction in the court system remains to be seen.  In fact, in the document launching the suit against the two federal agencies, the complaint itself admits a USFWS biological opinion on this potential issue found that black bear baiting posed little threat to grizzly bear populations

And, as this NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum website ( reported on June 2, grizzly bear populations in the Rocky Mountain West are thriving. In the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem alone, grizzlies have expanded their range by 1,500-square miles in the past two years and now inhabit nearly 27,000-square miles—a range that has grown 34-percent in the past decade! Grizzly populations have grown so fast and so strongly, Wyoming has proposed limited hunts on the big bruins.

Unfortunately, it’s become something of a trend for federal judges to decide they know more than the wildlife experts working for the various federal and state agencies, whose job it is to manage wildlife populations.

In step with the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), will continue to monitor this lawsuit closely and report on the lawsuit’s outcome.

About the Author:
Brian McCombie is a field editor and editorial contributor for the NRA's American Hunter. He writes about firearms and gear for the NRA's Shooting Illustrated website, as well handling public relations and marketing for companies and manufacturers in the shooting sports industry. He is a member of the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Brian likes hunting hogs, shooting 1911s chambered in 10 mm and .45 ACP, watching the Chicago Bears and relaxing with Squinchy, the orange tabby cat.

Follow NRA Hunters' Leadership Forum on Twitter @HuntersLead.