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Grizzly managers look toward bear hunts in Rockies

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 5, 2012 at 2:32 am •  Published: December 5, 2012

Precise details on bear hunts have not been crafted. Officials said raising the topic now could help defuse future animosity toward hunts.

Four people were killed by grizzlies over the past two years in Yellowstone National Park and nearby areas of Wyoming and Montana — highlighting the problems that have accompanied their rebound in areas frequented by people.

Still, it's taken decades for grizzlies to rebound from widespread extermination, and some wildlife advocates argue that it's too soon to talk about hunting.

The government has spent more than $20 million on restoration efforts since grizzly bears in the lower 48 states were put on the list of federally protected species in 1975.

Chris Colligan with the Greater Yellowstone Coalition said hunting discussions are premature, particularly when the number of bears killed by humans is high even in the absence of hunting.

At least 51 bears have died so far this year in the Yellowstone area, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Most have died at the hands of wildlife agents who kill bears that cause repeated problems or during run-ins with hunters, who sometimes shoot the animals in self-defense.

Hunting is not being considered for smaller grizzly populations in the Cabinet-Yaak, North Cascades and Selkirk areas of Idaho, Montana and Washington.

Hunting for grizzlies currently is allowed in Canada and Alaska, where hundreds are taken annually.

Grizzlies temporarily lost their threatened species status in 2007 in the Yellowstone region. Protections were restored in 2009 by federal court order.