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Reward offered in Idaho grizzly bear poaching case

The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the illegal killing of a young grizzly bear in Island Park, Idaho. This reward is in addition to a $5,000 reward offered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a $600 reward from Citizens Against Poaching.

The Case: On Saturday, June 4, the Citizens Against Poaching hotline received a tip about a decomposing grizzly bear carcass in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, a critical wildlife corridor between Yellowstone and the Bitterroot Recovery zone in central Idaho. Initial evidence indicates the bear died a few weeks ago and did not die of natural causes.

Poaching: Grizzly bears are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act and cannot be legally killed except in defense of human life. Each violation is punishable with fines up to $25,000 and up to six months in prison. Poaching is a widespread problem in the United States, with wildlife officials estimating that poachers kill as many animals as legal hunters, and that only one to five percent of poached animals come to the attention of law enforcement.

A Critical Time for Grizzlies: This case comes at a time when the USFWS is proposing to remove federal ESA protections for grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem—a proposal The HSUS and the Trust strongly oppose. These bears are far from fully recovered, and prominent grizzly bear scientists believe that the animals should not be stripped of federal protection at this point. Idaho, Wyoming and Montana all have plans to open up a trophy hunting season on GYE grizzly bears if they are delisted.

Lisa Kauffman, Idaho state director for The HSUS, said: “Grizzly bears already face numerous threats, including dwindling food and habitat resources, even with ESA protections intact. Intentionally killing one is a serious crime, and we are grateful for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s determination to find those responsible.”

The Investigators: This case is being investigated by USFWS and the Idaho DFG. Anyone with information about this case is urged to call 1-800-632-5999.

Resources: The HSUS and the Trust work with state and federal wildlife agencies to offer rewards of $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspected poachers. Other services include assistance with internet wildlife trafficking investigations, donation of robotic decoys and forensic equipment, funds to support wildlife K-9 programs, outreach to prosecutors to encourage vigorous prosecution of poachers and legislative work to strengthen penalties for poaching.

Media Contact: Chloe Detrick: 301-721-6463; cdetrick@humanesociety.org