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Environmental Advocates Sue Feds Over Bear Baiting In Idaho, Wyoming

Mick Thompson
Flickr Creative Commons

A group of wildlife advocates is suing the federal government, saying they need to have more of a role in helping to prevent grizzly bear deaths on national forest land in Idaho and Wyoming.

The U.S. Forest Service issued an environmental assessment in 1995 that let those states regulate bear baiting on national forest land. Baiting is the hunting practice of luring bears with food.

Wildlife advocates say letting the states have the final say when it comes to baiting in national forests is a problem because the bait can attract grizzly bears from the nearby Yellowstone ecosystem – and those bears are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

“This isn’t about baiting or hunting, per se. It’s about those practices as they affect grizzly bears, which are protected under federal law,” said Pete Frost, a lawyer with the Western Environmental Law Center.

But according to the suit, the federal Fish and Wildlife Service had previously thought no grizzlies would be in danger.

“It thought there would only be a remote possibility that any grizzlies would’ve been taken and since that time there have been many that have been shot over bait,” Frost said.

Since 1995, he says at least eight grizzlies have been killed on national forest land in Idaho and Wyoming. Even more have been killed at bait stations on other public or private lands, according to the suit.

Frost says the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife need to re-evaluate if states should have the final say in bear baiting regulations when it comes to national forests.

Both agencies declined to comment on pending litigation. Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

Copyright 2019 Boise State Public Radio

Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio News. To see more, visit Boise State Public Radio News.

James Dawson joined Boise State Public Radio as the organization's News Director in 2017. He oversees the station's award-winning news department. Most recently, he covered state politics and government for Delaware Public Media since the station first began broadcasting in 2012 as the country's newest NPR affiliate. Those reports spanned two governors, three sessions of the Delaware General Assembly, and three consequential elections. His work has been featured on All Things Considered and NPR's newscast division. An Idaho native from north of the time zone bridge, James previously served as the public affairs reporter and interim news director for the commercial radio network Inland Northwest Broadcasting. His reporting experience included state and local government, arts and culture, crime, and agriculture. He's a proud University of Idaho graduate with a bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media. When he's not in the office, you can find James fly fishing, buffing up on his photography or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season.
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