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 grizzly bear in East Idaho. This reward is in addition to a $5,000 reward offered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a $1,000 reward from Citizens Against Poaching, bringing the total reward to $11,000.
The Great Bear is a “conservation-reliant” species, which means that the animals require protections into perpetuity, or they will face extinction. Exceedingly slow to reproduce, a female grizzly bear produces only a few cubs in her lifetime—and fewer survive. If the mother is killed by a poacher, her cubs will likely die of starvation, predation or exposure.
The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bears are already in jeopardy. Their primary foods, white bark pine and cutthroat trout, have been nearly wiped out because of human causes. This drives more bears out of the safety of national parks in search of food. As a result, record numbers of bears have been killed in the last two years alone, with 61 confirmed in 2015 and 55 confirmed so far in 2016. Even more alarming, biologists believe that approximately one-half to two-thirds of grizzly bears killed by humans go unreported.
Poaching, even in small numbers, can harm grizzly bears because they are so rare on their small landscape in the lower 48 states. So if one factors in unknown deaths, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem mortality likely exceeds 10 percent of the entire population, which is unsustainable. This level of mortality threatens their persistence even as they may soon lose their federal protections for political, not scientific, reasons.
Lisa Kauffman, Idaho senior state director for the HSUS, said: “Most Americans cherish seeing grizzly bears alive. In fact, ecotourism to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks drives hundreds of millions of dollars annually into the area, and most of those tourists go to see grizzly bears or wolves. Intentionally killing a grizzly bear is a serious federal crime. We appreciate the efforts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
The Case: The grizzly bear died around October 21, 2016, near Coyote Meadows Road on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in Fremont County.
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 of 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.
A Critical Time for Grizzlies: This case comes at a time when the USFWS is proposing to remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, a proposal the HSUS and the Trust strongly oppose.
Ben Callison, president of the Trust, said: “Poaching is particularly reprehensible when it involves an endangered species struggling to make a comeback. We must work together to ensure all who are found to have been involved are held fully accountable for their depraved actions.”
The Investigators: This case is being investigated by USFWS and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Anyone with information is urged to call the Citizens Against Poaching Hotline at 1-800-632-5999 or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 1-208-523-0855. Callers may remain anonymous.
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.
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- Media Relations