Weekend’s grizzy attack in Grand Teton used to raise opposition to long-standing Park elk hunt

Latest chapter in a thick book of controversy over hunt is being written-

The inclusion of most of the area inside Grand Teton National Park (the valley portion) happened after a long and bitter controversy.  The present boundary of the Park was established in 1950 after significant concessions to the usual opponents of change in the rural West, primarily ranching interests.  Ever since there has been bitterness about these concessions from the losing side. For example, I was active in the period 1997-2005 in trying to overturn the livestock grazing concessions which I loathed.

One of these concessions was an elk hunt inside part of the expanded national park, called “the elk reduction” program. This is likely a clever way of officially asserting that elk numbers in the area always need to be reduced. For numerous reasons this hunt has always had its bitter opponents as well as supporters, who have the upper hand because the authorization for this rare national park hunt is written into law.

There have been a lot of grizzly bears in this, the southern portion of Grand Teton his year. The bears are clearly moving into the place. It is excellent habitat for them. It also has hunters in the fall. It should be noted that dispersed cross-country and backcountry trail use is also relatively high most of the year.

Opponents of the hunt are using last week’s mauling as an argument to close the hunt. A hunter was attacked by a grizzly, as we reported earlier.

Given the history of backcountry elk hunting/grizzly encounters over the years, one can argue that this kind of event is almost routine. Hunters need to be prepared and alert at all times for grizzlies just as they are for their quarry. Hunt opponents, however, are using the event to try to close the hunt.,

The Jackson Hole News and Guide has a story on the latest argument. Attack stokes criticism of hunt. Opponents of park elk hunt say mauling was preordained, grizzlies were known to be around. By Cory Hatch.


  1. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    I agree with Tom Mangelsen. Close the park to hunting. Wyoming Game Department Elk population objectives can be
    skewed any way they want to justify any hunt they want.
    These are the same folks that want to kill wolves on the elk feedgrounds where they are now saying in this article that there are too many elk. They also kill lots of bull elk during this hunt which can’t be justified as “elk reduction”.
    This is all about money. The Wyoming game department makes lots of money off of these special elk permits and the Jackson Chamber of Commerce supports the hunts because of the money the hunters spend in town.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan