The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission unanimously decided not to allow grizzly bear hunting in the state at this time.
During a meeting in April, the commission discussed a bill from the Wyoming Legislature that could give them the authority to once again hold a grizzly bear hunting season. Senate File 93 would “[Authorize] the game and fish commission to hold a grizzly bear hunt or facilitate a relocation as specified”. The bill can be read in its entirety here.
Commissioners agreed that the bear population was expanding outside the boundaries of suitable habitat. And are becoming a threat to human safety. They also agreed that the bears have a negative impact on other wildlife. So why would the commission unanimously vote against a hunt?
The short answer: The Endangered Species Act.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined on two separate occasions that the Yellowstone area grizzly bears have been recovered. But a federal judge has overturned that decision both times and reinstated the ESA protections.
“The Endangered Species Act, sometimes, unfortunately, it is the law of the land in regard to endangered species,” Commissioner Patrick Crank said. “If we were to exercise our discretion, as directed by the Legislature to enact a hunting season, we could do that, I guess. But the practical effect of that is we would throw our citizens into an untenable situation. Which I don’t feel comfortable doing as a commissioner. We [could] put someone who bought one of those licenses and went out and killed a grizzly bear in harm’s way because the federal government will prosecute that person and stick them in jail.”
Crank is an attorney who explained that over 230 years of case law support the U.S. Constitutions Supremacy Clause, which says federal law takes precedence over state law.
Commission President David Rael compared the grizzly hunt to legalizing pot. He rhetorically asked why states were allowed to legalize Marijuana when the U.S. Government recognized it as a felony. Crank jokingly responded that arresting grizzly bear hunters would be easier than arresting all the “dope smokers” in Colorado.
What are your thoughts on the commission’s decision?