The idea behind the "shoot'em with a camera" campaign was to make sure that as many non-hunters as possible applied for the 22 permits the state's offering for the fall hunt. The short window to be part of the lottery drawing ended Monday.
The federal government paved way for the "threat of state-sponsored trophy hunting" last June when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced—to the ire of conservation groups—it was removing the Yellowstone-area grizzly population from the list of species protected by the Endangered Species Act. The state wildlife commission then voted unanimously to allow for the hunt.
It's not clear at this point how many of the roughly 7,000 applicants hoping to be randomly chosen for one of the permits are people those who want to kill one of the iconic animals, or protesters.
One of those behind the women-led campaign, Lisa Robertson, co-founder of conservation group Wyoming Untrapped, expressed optimism, however. "We've got at least 1,000, maybe 2,000—maybe more," she told the Jackson Hole News & Guide. "People signed up. Their whole families signed up. We had some big heavy hitters sign up as well."
In addition to Goodall, the "heavy hitters" also include noted elephant conservationists Cynthia Moss.
The idea behind the action, that is, to get out in the field and "hunt" with a camera, emerged on social media recently—just July 8. "If you are chosen and meet the requirements," the campaign's GoFundMe page says, "the funds will cover the necessary costs to participate in the field with a camera."
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"I think we surprised ourselves at how much public support this has gotten in so little time," Robertson told National Geographic.
Over six dozen scientists wrote a letter in April to Wyoming's Republican Gov. Matt Mead, urging him to put off the hunt. "To trophy hunt such a vulnerable population is ethically irresponsible, unwarranted, and not in the public's interest," they declared.
New information only underscores that irresponsibility, say conservation groups. Citing newly confirmed grizzly mortalities that took place in 2017, the groups said in a letter sent Monday to state officials: "While the undersigned believe that any hunting to grizzly ears in Wyoming is unsustainable, Wyoming's planned fall 2018 hunting quotas must, at a minimum, account for these deaths."
If conservation and indigenous groups get their way, however, the hunt, set for Sept. 1 - Nov 15, 2018, won't happen at all.
A federal court in Missoula, Mont. is holding a hearing in August, and could find that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service erred in removing the grizzly bear from Endangered Species Act protection.
*This post has been corrected. In one instance, the state mentioned was Washington when it should have been Wyoming.