JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Environmental groups have filed notice they intend to sue the U.S. government for letting hunters use bait to lure bears in national forests in Idaho and Wyoming.
Hunters often use livestock parts and other food to lure black bears in states where baiting is allowed. Baiting also attracts grizzly bears, causing hunters to kill several grizzlies in national forests, Erik Molvar with the Western Watersheds Project told the Jackson Hole News & Guide.
Grizzly hunting isn’t allowed in the lower 48 states. A judge halted plans for Idaho and Wyoming grizzly hunts by restoring federal protections for Yellowstone-region grizzlies in September.
“By permitting bear baiting in grizzly country, both the Forest Service and state agencies in Wyoming and Idaho are sabotaging recovery efforts of grizzly bears,” Molvar said.
Western Watersheds Project and WildEarth Guardians, represented by the Western Environmental Law Center, filed formal notice Wednesday they will sue within the next 60 days over bear baiting. Forest officials declined comment, citing policy not to comment on litigation.
Bear baiting is prohibited in Montana, which has a substantial grizzly population, as well as in Oregon and Washington. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department regulates bear baiting, including by stipulating which types of bait may be used in different locations in the state.
At the same time, national forests and parks throughout the West prohibit intentional feeding of bears. They often strictly prohibit leaving food out at campsites, out of concern that bears can become accustomed to human food and drawn to people.
Such bears typically have to be relocated or killed. Officials remind people of the problem with the slogan, “a fed bear is a dead bear.”