“Bear bills” make good sense for hunting

Hunting – and the nonhunting public’s perceptions of hunting – have changed a lot over time. One of those changes is a topic of some bills proposed to the Legislature this year, and they could help correct some misperceptions.

The Wyoming Wildlife Federation is supporting a couple of bills during this Legislative session that could help clear up some misperceptions nonhunters have. For decades, we’ve referred to bears and mountain lions as “trophy game.” However, in recent years, trophy hunting has come to be thought of as wasteful or elitist. Most hunters, including those who go hunting with the goal of bringing home the head and horns of the biggest critter they can find, still use as much of the animal as they can. They eat the meat, and some even do something with the hide.

But others do hunt solely for the trophy. While this is not my idea of hunting, it still has its place. Trophy hunting, especially in other countries where game animals are overpopulated, hunting is a means to thin the herds to protect the herds as a whole or human populations in the region.

We don’t have that problem here, so it makes sense to change the term “Trophy Game” so it doesn’t carry that connotation. That’s what these bills, if they are introduced, will do. The first bill will change the designation “Trophy Game” to “Large Carnivore.” The other bill would require hunters to pack out any edible portions of those animals, which is not required currently under the trophy game designation. Many hunters already do this with bears and mountain lions, and there are many good uses for that meat – including some very tasty dishes if you have the right recipes.

These bills would be good for hunting, and I’d love to see them passed. For more information about the bills, visit the Wyoming Wildlife Federation’s website at wyomingwildlife.org.

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