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$40,000 reward offered for info about illegal shooting of momma grizzly bear

St. Anthony

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Courtesy Yellowstone Park Service

ST. ANTHONY — Today, five conservation organizations announced a $40,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons connected to the illegal shooting of an adult female grizzly bear in Fremont County near Mesa Falls and Fish Creek.

According to an Idaho Fish and Game press release, a female grizzly was shot and killed near the Pole Bridge Campground in Island Park between March 15 and March 23. The female grizzly died leaving behind a cub. According to Idaho Fish and Game, the cub later died alone in its den. Grizzly bears are protected by both state and federal law with no current hunting season in Idaho.

“I understand preliminary investigations are showing 13 gunshot rounds found in the bear,” Kathy Rinaldi told EastIdahoNews.com. Rinaldi is the Idaho Conservation Coordinator for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. “Clearly not a case of an accidental shooting.”

This is the third grizzly bear shooting to have occurred in the same general area over the past eight months, according to Fish and Game reports. In September 2020 an adult male grizzly was shot and killed in Coyote Meadows followed by the shooting of a young male bear in November 2020 that was discovered near Cold Springs Road. All three cases remain under investigation. Since 2016, this is the fifth grizzly bear in Idaho to die as a result of poaching.

“I think that any type of poaching, whether an elk or deer or a grizzly bear, is a black eye on the sportsman,” Kit Fischer, the Director of Wildlife Programs at National Wildlife Federation said to EastIdahoNews.com. The NWF office based in Missoula, Montana contributed to the $40,000 reward.

“I don’t think anyone is going to claim that this is hunting,” he said. “That’s the point to make clear, this is not hunting, this is poaching. I think any sportsman will see it as that violates all the tenets of wildlife management.”

The reward contributors also include the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, the Humane Society of the United States, the Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife. Citizens Against Poaching and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are also offering rewards of $5,000 each, for a total reward of $40,000.

“The third illegal killing of a grizzly bear near Island Park in less than seven months is appalling,” said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity in a press release today. “The killing of even one grizzly is a setback to bear recovery, but this poaching led to two dead bears, including a young cub that likely starved to death in its den. The cowardly act of killing this mother grizzly bear must be punished.”

According to Fish and Game officials, the grizzly bear died of multiple gunshot wounds and was discovered lying partially submerged in the Little Warm River. Fish and Game has not confirmed the number of gunshots, or what type of gun was used to shoot the bear. Officials did not immediately return a phone call requesting clarification.

“Sometimes the folks that want to see the bears managed are their own worst enemies,” Fischer said. “Likely this is someone who is frustrated with grizzly bears, and it’s hard to say if it’s the person killing these bears, but this isn’t how we get to better management. It’s in everyone’s best interest to make sure bears are managed and managed well. People are literally shooting themselves in the foot.”

Anyone with information regarding these incidents is asked to call the Upper Snake Regional Office (208) 525-7290, Citizen’s Against Poaching hotline (800) 632-5999 or report online at https://idfg.idaho.gov/poacher. Callers may remain anonymous.

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