As well as being a keystone species and providing valuable ecosystem services, our grizzly bears are also a great resource to the state and provide an economic driving force of our second largest industry — tourism. Since grizzly bears are such a rare species and only live in a few select places, people travel from all over the world to visit Wyoming and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to see them. Without the full suite of wildlife, including large carnivores like bears and wolves, Wyoming, Grand Teton, and Yellowstone National Parks wouldn’t have the draw that they do. Wildlife is what makes this place special and why so many people want to spend their time and money here. Americans are craving a connection with nature and wildlife and will travel as far as they need to in order to find it. Wyoming has consistently been discussing diversifying the economy for the last several years. We have that diversification right here already. The state of Wyoming doesn’t see the benefit of having grizzlies in more places and instead wants to reduce their numbers and keep them in the Demographic Monitoring Area. Matt White, a resident of Wilson, Wyoming recently penned the following letter to Governor Gordon in support of keeping our grizzlies alive so that our economy and ecology can prosper. As the state continues to lose young people, miss opportunities, and ride the economic roller coaster, more residents need to speak up and contact their elected officials to protect our shared wildlife resources which will benefit all.
Dear Governor Gordon,
First off congratulations on your recent election as Governor of our wonderful state. I have been employed in our state’s hospitality and tourism industry for 11 years now, all of which as a sales manager/sales director directly responsible for encouraging companies to do business in Wyoming & Teton County. I love our state’s rugged and “untamed” landscape and truly believe Wyoming is one of the last frontiers in our beautiful nation. I write to you as a passionate lover of nature and concerned citizen. Our state’s recent “fight” to remove grizzly bears from endangered species protection is concerning. What is even more concerning is the passionate stance some of our state’s elected civil servants make for an issue that largely affects those who live in and around Teton County. Studies have shown these amazing animals are an asset to our local tourism industry and are worth more alive than shot as a trophy. I was so relieved and thankful this past autumn when Judge Dana Christensen restored these protections and appalled that some of our state’s elected officials, especially on the national level in Washington D.C. took the time to introduce legislation to remove these protections, when there are so many more pressing issues facing citizens of our state. Truly shocking that killing 22 grizzly bears was a priority. Again, our local economy and our state’s second largest industry is so dependent on these animals I ask you as our state’s leader to push back against this legislation for the reasons stated above, the backlash currently happening in Cooke City, Montana should be a gentle reminder as a path we should not follow.
I wish you the best of luck during your term as Wyoming’s Governor and appreciate your time.
Photo: Wyoming Grizzly in Grand Teton National Park by Jack Bayles