The John D. Rockefeller Jr. National Parkway covers 24,000 acres between Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. The National Park Service told the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the service's plans for removing federal protections for the grizzly should not allow hunting in the parkway. Wyoming says the state should make any hunting decisions there. (Grand Teton National Park)

The National Park Service said Tuesday there should be no hunting of grizzly bears in the 24,000-acre John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway between Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.

The parkway should be “identified” as a national park unit where grizzly hunting is prohibited, Park Service regional director Sue Masica said in a memo to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The parkway is owned and managed by the Park Service, but hunting is allowed. Additionally, any hunting program in the ecosystem should limit the likelihood that “well-known or transboundary bears will be harvested,” Masica wrote.

Her comments were in response to a proposed Fish and Wildlife Service plan to remove federal protection from the Yellowstone grizzly. That delisting action is expected to be completed by the end of this year and would open the door for Wyoming, Idaho and Montana to institute hunts. The deadline for submitting comments on the delisting plan was Tuesday.

“NPS is requesting that the Proposed Rule, Conservation Strategy, state management plans and other related documents identify the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway as one of the three national park units in the [Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem] where hunting will not be permitted,” her memo said.

Wyoming has held steadfast to its opinion that it alone has authority over hunting outside national parks, including in the parkway. It has insisted that it even has jurisdiction on private land, known as inholdings, inside Grand Teton. Several conservation groups have challenged that position in court.

Wyoming doesn’t agree with the Park Service request regarding grizzly hunting in the parkway, said Brian Nesvik, Wyoming Game and Fish Department chief game warden. Founding legislation for the parkway specifically says hunting would be allowed, he said Tuesday.

“My understanding is they can’t change that,” Nesvik said. Wyoming would oppose such a designation, he said.

Grizzly hunting is unlikely in the parkway in any case, he said. Wyoming decided it would not allow wolf hunting in the parkway when it had the opportunity to institute a hunt there, Nesvik said.

“I suspect, but I’m not going to speak for the [Wyoming Game and Fish] Commission, the department’s recommendation will be the same for grizzly bears,” he said.

In her comments, Masica underscored the value of wildlife to national park visitors and the mission of the Park Service.

Grizzly bears are a premier wildlife attraction for visitors to Yellowstone Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller Jr Memorial Parkway, her memo said. “Those visitors bring tens of millions of dollars into the regional economy. The bears contribute to the public’s enjoyment and sense of pride in our conservation heritage.”

Any hunting should respect the Park Service mission, protect regional economic benefits and the “enjoyment of bear watching,” reduce the risks of wounded bears entering the parks and limit the likelihood that popular bears will be harvested, her memo said.

Masica asked that hunting be focused away from park boundaries and in areas where human-bear conflicts are prevalent. The parks also should be included in annual meetings at which the three states surrounding around Yellowstone hash out annual hunting quotas.

(This article was corrected to reflect the proper ownership of the Rockefeller Parkway. The parkway was transferred from U.S. Forest Service ownership to the National Park Service and is administered by Grand Teton National Park. Also, language was added to support the original text that refers to the Park Service request “regarding grizzly hunting in the parkway” — Ed.)

Angus M. Thuermer Jr.

Angus M. Thuermer Jr. is the natural resources reporter for WyoFile. He is a veteran Wyoming reporter and editor with more than 35 years experience in Wyoming. Contact him at angus@wyofile.com or (307)...

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  1. Here’s one from WY. NO BEAR HUNTING, PERIOD. Y’all only want to prove how “manly” you are anyway. YOU built in a park area. YOU paid dearly to have wildlife in your backyards and now you just want to kill it all. THEY were there first. THEY are more important than YOU, EVERY TIME. They can’t pack up and move to cleaner air, waters, or lands and we have taken every corner of the earth up. They cannot speak for themselves. If they could I am sure they would want easier, streamlined hunting processes also. They have a nasty presence on their lands and it walks upright and carries a big, metal stick. Today’s world is not the same as 100 yrs ago. Get over it! Don’t want bearS your backyard? Don’t want cougars? Don’t want deer in your garden? MOVE. Let someone who would appreciate the nature be able to afford that land. Ya gotta be a millionaire to afford WY land and they just want to kill what bothers them. We have got to change the way some people think. All I can say is, Thank Goodness people get old and die. So their old, antiquated thinking dies also.

  2. OK, So all responders to this article are from out of state. Hmmm Maybe we ought to put the bears in your back yard.
    There is nothing wrong with selective harvest as it maintains a healthy and viable population of species and in regards to the grizzlies it makes them wary of man and right now that is NOT the case.

    So to you people that want no hunting of this species maybe move to the tri-state area and actually participate in this topic on a first person scenario. maybe go fishing in the back country armed with only your intelligence and let us know how that works out.

    The two species you people are most concerned with are the Wolf and Grizzly and they are wiping out other species therefore they must locate farther and farther away from the parks so How long does the experiment go on ? Or as some have said “Play Out” ?

    Time to get REAL folks.

  3. That is great that NPS would like to have a no hunt corridor but can we just have a no hunt period? The population has not grown since the early 2000s and last year, a record number of bears were killed. Let’s wait and see how that all plays out without opening up a trophy hunt – which a majority of Americans oppose – of iconic Yellowstone area grizzly bears.

  4. We have to protect these bears!!!! Give them the room they so need!! Every wild animal around d the greater YNP area needs our protection. What is wrong with Wyoming? Do they have any idea how much money is brought into the area because people want to see Live Bears? Come on!!!!

  5. The Grizzlies need to have a safe place to live, Yellowstone is a good place.No hunting anywhere near the park!!

  6. As a hunter n guide for over 30 year this is totally the wrong thing to do. There should not be any hunting on are around any State or national park for grizzly bear at all and the GB should not be hunted at all. for I see it there shouldn’t be allowed to delist the grizzly bears for long time!!!!!! Stupid

  7. The state of Wyoming won’t be happy until they have killed off our “Revenue Bears”. (the bears we see) You would think that since Obama killed off our coal industry, Matt Mead would like to preserve our tourism. Sad that isn’t the case.

  8. All wild animals in and around YNP must be protected always. Any apex predator should be listed under the ESA.