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Cody residents meet to discuss management of grizzlies

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A man who shot a grizzly, and a man who was attacked and injured by a grizzly joined almost 200 people in Cody Thursday night, to help decide how the bears will be managed in Wyoming. The state took over management this summer after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took Yellowstone grizzlies off the endangered species list.

The future of grizzlies that move outside Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks is at stake. Wyoming’s Game and Fish department took over management of the bears at the end of July.

And, bears found outside the parks will be hunted. Wyoming’s Game and Fish large carnivore supervisor says getting input from Wyoming citizens is important.

Dan Thompson explained, “There’s obviously a great deal of interest in hunting.  And how that occurs, it’s controversial. There’s polarity and different viewpoints on it.  But, that’s the beauty of this. There’s a lot of opinions that we can gather by going to the public.”

The Thursday night  meeting was one of several held across the state, and the most highly attended. One hundred seventy-six people came to the Cody meeting.

Most had something to say about how grizzly numbers should be counted, how grizzlies should be managed, and what to do about grizzlies that get into trouble.

Thompson said, “Across the board people have been very respectful of each other, and listening to each other.”

One of the attendees was the leader of a group that hopes to hunt grizzlies.

The President of the Western Bear Foundation, Joe Kondelis, commented, “We’re thrilled about the process. We’re thrilled about the progress that we’re making.”

But, a retired ecologist from Cody said the bears should not have been delisted.

Chuck Neal said, “We do not have a recovered grizzly bear population.”

Neal said the demographic monitoring area around the parks is an artificial designation of appropriate grizzly habitat.

He explained, “Anything outside this so called demographic monitoring area will not be counted as a bear. They will simply be non-existent so the bears will be willy nilly killed off.”

Four grizzlies were killed in the Cody area this fall. One was shot by a Cody hunter who says it charged him twice.

Tev Kelley explained, “It was coming right at us, so I fired kind of a quick shot.  Don’t even know where I aimed. It was just that quick. Ended up hitting it in the side of the face.”

The Game and Fish department euthanize a grizzly with a head wound, that was photographed by people in the Shoshone National Forest, where Kelley had shot the bear.

Even with seven grizzlies killed in Wyoming this fall, Thompson said, “This year we’re going to be below mortality thresholds and moving forward work to reduce those potential.

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