Griz ordered to get scarce

 

WYOMING

Grizzlies, wolves and other "unacceptable species" may want to rethink future visits to counties and towns in western Wyoming. In March, two counties and two city councils passed regulations that ban the animals. They were reacting to new federal regulations that require bear-resistant food storage and a minimum distance between campsites and food, trails and hunting carcasses. According to county commissioners, the Forest Service is ignoring the sentiment of locals, who don't want the bears at all.

"This county will not stand by and let others dictate what happens on county ground," says Fremont County commissioner Scott Luther. "Grizzly bears are dangerous. There's a place for them - Yellowstone. Do we have to have them in our town, threatening our livelihoods? No."

While the bans are unenforceable, local defiance has not gone unnoticed. Shoshone and Bridger-Teton national forests have postponed expansion of an existing food storage order that would have covered much of both forests beginning in April. Instead, forest supervisors plan to review the public's concerns and implement the order by mid-summer. Bridger-Teton National Forest Supervisor Kniffy Hamilton stressed that, banned or not, the bears will wander in this region and residents should take safety precautions: "Simply because no one has been hurt yet, doesn't mean it won't happen."

Copyright © 2002 HCN and Karen Mockler

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