Hunters aren’t safe from social media scrutiny — especially when posting controversial yet legally harvested big game species like the grizzly bear.
Tim Brent, husband of hunter and author Eva Shockey, recently unveiled pictures from a hunt he did with his father-in-law Jim Shockey in the Yukon. He posted pictures of both legal moose and grizzly bear harvests from his recent trip in Canada. The grizzly bear picture unsurprisingly attracted the most scrutiny. One of the grizzly pictures was removed by Instagram and Facebook for allegedly violating Terms & Services. Here’s the one that was left untouched.
The bear picture wasn’t removed from Twitter. The caption reads, “Alright folks, here is my Mountain Grizzly! We put an awesome stalk on him but he spotted us at about 75 yards. Instead of taking off he turned and came right at us. It was very easy to tell this boar owned the valley we were hunting in and wasn’t scared of anything!”
Actor and comedian Ricky Gervais — who is wholly opposed to hunting— tweeted his dismay with Tim’s grizzly bear harvest:
Brent, a former NHL player for the Carolina Hurricanes and Maple Leafs who retired in 2016, reported the death threats he received from anti-hunters on Twitter. The platform, however, said these threatening tweets don’t violate Terms of Agreements:
Most small and big game hunters agree that tasteful pictures of legal hunts shouldn’t be blocked or removed on social media—including those of big game species like grizzly bears.
While I personally would never hunt a grizzly bear — I hope to harvest a Virginia black bear one year since they are nuisances here — I understand the need to keep these grizzly bear populations in check with managed hunts. Hunters pay upwards of 60% of conservation funding in this country, so they play a crucial part in restoring wildlife populations and habitats. They spend more time raising funds for this compared to hunting, believe it or not.
Hunting grizzly bears has been an especially controversial subject in this country and in Canada of late, as a federal judge recently put a four-week injunction on the planned managed grizzly hunt that was set to take place in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem on September 1, 2018. 22 grizzly tags were set aside for the managed hunt. Photojournalists and anti-hunters like Jane Goodall entered the grizzly tag lottery in an attempt to disrupt the hunt, with two activists landing a coveted tag of the ten available in Wyoming for grizzly season.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) delisted the grizzly bear in this particular ecosystem in June 2017 because they determined its population has been restored. Wyoming Department of Fish and Game echoed and endorsed this move. Their website reads:
Yes, Game and Fish believes the states are best suited to manage wildlife. We are committed to maintaining a recovered grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Area into the future….Wyoming has highly qualified grizzly managers with decades of experience managing bears and the citizens of Wyoming have already contributed over $40 million dollars to grizzly conservation and recovery. We need to recognize the commitment of Wyoming stakeholders such as sportsmen, ranchers, conservationists, outdoor recreationists and other users of the Greater Yellowstone Area.
This delisting solely applies to this region and no where else in the continental U.S. The managed hunts conducted by state wildlife agencies, wildlife biologists say, are necessary to put this population in check per the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation —especially since other species elk, mountain lions, deer and other wildlife are managed under it. The grizzly bear population there, they believe, shouldn’t get preferential treatment since it was determined to be not threatened anymore, per Endangered Species Act rules. It doesn’t need any more ESA protections in this region since they now exceed a population of 700.
In fact, grizzlies have been causing a lot of problems for farmers, ranchers, and most recently hunting guides since their population in that region isn’t in check. Two grizzly bears were rightfully euthanized after mauling an elk hunting guide to death over the weekend. This could be a consequence of the federal judge’s move halting the managed grizzly hunt.
This issue isn’t easy to discuss, but the nuances of managed big game hunts should be civilly debated. While grizzly bears are cute and adorable, their aggressive nature shouldn’t be diminished. Thanks to the Disneyfication of animals and rejection of science-based wildlife management practices that has transpired here over the years, we will sadly continue to see this animosity placed on hunters who legally and ethically harvest animals—especially big game species. That’s where hunters should unite and come together, because the anti’s will go after other wildlife species if they had their way. In fact, it’s our job to educate our fellow Americans about the misconceptions placed on certain types of hunting.
Tim Brent should be able to post his picture without retribution or fear from anti-hunters who call for his death. It would tremendously help if anti-hunters would hear out wildlife biologists and other conservationists before lashing out at the unknown.