BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission on Thursday approved a limited hunting season for grizzly bears in eastern Idaho just a year after the animals were removed from the Endangered Species List.
Under the plan, the Department of Fish and Game will hold a random drawing to award one Idaho hunter a grizzly tag for a hunting season running from Sept. 1 to Nov. 15.
If successful, the hunter won’t be allowed to reapply for future tags. Baiting or hound-hunting will not be allowed.
Grizzlies in the Yellowstone National Park region were on the Endangered Species Act list until 2017, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed federal protections.
That cleared the way for Idaho, Montana and Wyoming to allow limited hunting when the population has more than 600 bears. Last year’s population estimate for the region was 718 bears.
Wyoming is also planning a limited trophy hunt this fall.
Wyoming’s proposed hunt, which will be considered on May 23 by the state’s Game and Fish Commission, would allow for 11 bears to be hunted — 10 males and one female — between Sept. 15 and Nov. 15.
However, under the proposal rules, the Wyoming hunt would be stopped when one female bear is taken even if no male bears have been killed.
Montana officials have decided not to hold a grizzly bear hunt this year.
Idaho officials are warning would-be hunters that the grizzly hunt could still be canceled because of a pending federal lawsuit.
The U.S. Department of the Interior is locked in a court battle with conservationists and American Indian tribes over the lifting of protections for a group of grizzlies in and around Yellowstone National Park.
Attorney Andrea Santarsiere, with the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said Idaho bowed to the wishes of trophy hunters in approving a hunt.
“This is a sad day for the many state residents who value our native wildlife and the critical role it plays in keeping wild lands in balance,” Santarsiere said in a prepared statement.
Santarsiere said her organization oppose any hunting of grizzly bears, saying it would threaten continued recovery of the bears.