To promote rational science-based wildlife management that fosters ecosystem health and dynamic equilibrium between species.
We envision a Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem as a place where the processes of nature can be allowed to play out with minimal interference from people. This region is a world treasure, and we have an obligation to treat it as such. With grizzly bears and wolves back in the mix in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, this is one of the few places in the world that has the entire complement of animals that were here prior to European settlement. This presents us with an historic opportunity to rebalance one of the world’s most important ecosystems with something approaching a natural balance between the species, including the people who live here.
Wyoming Wildlife Advocates is a 501 (c) (3) organization formed to promote a rational, science-based approach to wildlife management throughout the state of Wyoming. WWA will encourage policies that will maintain a healthy, natural balance — or dynamic equilibrium —between predator and prey species. We acknowledge that fluctuations occur among populations, but we believe this is natural and that the hand of man must lay lightly upon the reins. We believe that migratory patterns must be maintained and connectivity between isolated populations encouraged. We envision a Wyoming where people and wildlife peacefully coexist.
Kent Nelson: Board president and executive director – Kent is a retired businessman who worked for many years in the music industry as a music producer and engineer and was the founder and owner of two concert sound and light production companies. He now works as a wildlife photographer and travels extensively to practice his craft. He has lived his entire adult life in the Northern Rockies and is also a past board member and officer of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, a pioneer in large-landscape conservation. He and his wife Ann live in Jackson Hole.
Roger Hayden: Board treasurer and managing director – Roger is the former executive director of Wyoming Untrapped and the former communications director for Wyoming Pathways. He also was a journalist for 12 years, owned a small business and is a naturalist tour guide and nature photographer. He lives in Jackson Hole.
Dr. David Mattson: Science Advisor – David is currently Lecturer and Visiting Senior Scientist at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Adjunct Faculty at Northern Arizona University, and Research Associate with the Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative. His former positions, prior to retirement from the U.S. Geological Survey, include Research Wildlife Biologist, Leader of the Colorado Plateau Research Station, and Western Field Director of the MIT-USGS Science Impact Collaborative, all with the USGS. He holds degrees in Forest Resource Management and Forest Ecology and a doctorate in Wildlife Resource Management from the University of Idaho. Dr. Mattson has studied large carnivores for 30 years and has incorporated ecological information from mountain lions and grizzly bears into demographic, habitat, and risk management models. His ecological research has also included focus on details of carnivore behaviors, including foraging, predation, and relations with humans. His human dimensions research has featured conservation policy issues related to social, political, and organizational dynamics shaping policies and practices of carnivore and other conservation programs. David teaches classes on relations between science and policy. His work has been featured in Science, Ecology, Conservation Biology, Biological Conservation, The Journal of Wildlife Management, and the Journal of Mammalogy, and invited talks at the Smithsonian, American Museum of Natural History, the American Institute of Biological Sciences, and International Conferences on Bear Research and Management.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service is pushing for the removal of grizzly bears from the protections of Endangered Species Act. We believe this rush to delist is politically driven and not based in sound science. The grizzly’s loss of two key food sources, whitebark pine nuts and cutthroat trout, have placed the bear in a precarious position. Add global warming and its potential negative effects on remaining food supplies, and the fate of the grizzly becomes even more of a concern. The USFWS claims the grizzly can adapt to changes in food availability, but they have refused to allow their science supporting this to be reviewed by independent scientists. This lack of transparency is a cause for concern that, among other issues, compels us to advocate against delisting and for better science.
We believe hunting in a national park is inappropriate for a variety of reasons. Our first concern, of course, is the safety of visitors. Park visitors simply do not expect to have to duck bullets or wear hunter orange garments to be seen by hunters. A national park should be a sanctuary for people and wildlife. Our second concern is the use of hunting in Grand Teton National park to cull an elk herd kept over management objectives by artificial feeding on the adjacent National Elk Refuge. Both the park and refuge are overseen by the Department of Interior. We urge the DOI to appropriately manage its two agencies so that hunting in the park is not necessary.
Jackson Hole is famous for its large herd of elk. This beloved herd, however, is threatened with devastation as chronic wasting disease marches ever closer. The effects of this and other diseases are amplified by elk herds closely concentrated on feed grounds. To save this national treasure and maintain a healthy ecosystem, we advocate expeditiously phasing out artificial winter feeding on the National Elk Refuge and state feed grounds. We support policies and practices that manage for herds balanced with the carrying capacity of their winter ranges. We also support policies that encourage traditional elk migration as a means to mitigate the effects of the deadly CWD and promote a healthy ecosystem that is not overgrazed by an unnaturally dense elk population.
Ecologists have known for years that large carnivores on the landscape are essential for maintaining a natural dynamic equilibrium among species. Large carnivores also play a key role in keeping in check ungulates that otherwise would over browse landscapes that support a healthy diversity of species. For these reasons, we oppose the hunting of large carnivores, which is done primarily for sport. We will advocate for robust large carnivore populations, and not the bare legal minimums to which Wyoming, Idaho and Montana manage.
The management of Grand Teton National Park has been a mix of good and bad. We applaud the good, but want to avoid the bad. Of immediate concern, of course, is the annual elk hunt. Most recently, National Park Service officials have indicated they will allow hunting on the 100 private land “inholdings” scattered throughout the park. Wildlife management on those parcels would be turned over to the state, reversing 65 years of park jurisdiction. This is one of many examples of the kind of bad management policies we want to prevent.
“Wildlife management” in most states actually is managing wildlife for the benefit of hunters and fishers. We believe this is a lopsided approach that ignores the diverse interests of all US citizens and visitors to public lands. Most wildlife management agencies derive most of their funding from hunting and fishing license fees, as well as federal taxes on hunting and fishing equipment. Therefore, these agencies are beholden to hunters and fishers. Yet, many studies and surveys indicate that hunters and fishers are a distinct minority visiting public lands. They also contribute far less to the local economies surrounding public lands than do wildlife watchers, hikers, photographers and others. We will continue our efforts to make elected officials, decision makers and the general public aware of this and push for a change of direction. We also will seek and support alternatives to funding wildlife management agencies.