A Wyoming grizzly hunt is a distinct possibility

For the first time since 1975, there might be a hunting season for grizzly bears this fall. It would be the first time in 43 years the bears could be legally hunted in the lower 48 states.

The ultimate decision is still up in the air, but a proposal for the first grizzly bear hunt in the lower 48 since 1975 is drawn up and ready to go.

If it happens, it won’t be a big hunt. You might have a better chance of winning a couple thousand dollars in the Wyoming lottery than getting a grizzly tag. But just like the lottery, you can’t win if you don’t play.

By the end of May, we should know whether the hunt will proceed or not. If it does, you’ll have the first couple weeks of July to apply. Residents will have to pay a $5 application fee, and nonresidents will pay $15. That’ll give you a shot at one of the licenses up for grabs.

There will be a quota system much like what is used for black bears and mountain lions to prevent harvesting too many bears. Only 12 bears will be allowed to be taken in the core area of their range – though no hunting will be allowed in Yellowstone or Grand Teton parks or the Rockefeller Parkway. In the outlying region, designated as hunt area 7, an additional 12 bears will be allowed to be taken, though chances of even seeing one in that area are slim.

If you’re drawn for a tag, you’ll have to complete a bear ID course, and a resident tag will be $600. Nonresidents will be required to pay $6,000.

This is an exciting time for Wyoming, and it’s the result of more than four decades of hard work by wildlife officials to protect grizzly bears. The only problem is that the bears have been too successful, and now there are more of them than their habitat can support. While that’s bad news for bears, it’s great news for hunters, who are a crucial piece of the wildlife management balancing act.

If you apply, good luck. If you draw, I wish you success on your historic hunt.