Accidental Grizzly Killing Penalties Too Stiff?
By Todd Helms
Grizzly and black bears can be notoriously hard to tell apart at times. This has led to accidental killings of grizzly bears over the past few spring and fall black bear seasons in the states of Montana and Wyoming. Often times the fines levied on hunters making honest mistakes are in excess of $10k.
Take for example the case of mistaken identification last spring right in my backyard here in northwest Wyoming. A local hunter and his young son thought the boy had legally taken a prime spring black bear but upon closer inspection the bruin was a grizz. An honest mistake which the pair immediately reported to WYGFD. The hunters were up front and honest about the mistake but a fine $10K and a year’s probation was still handed down as punishment.
This is not the only incident of mistaken bear identity resulting in a stiff penalty. So, I have to ask the question… are these fines too high? Should honesty and integrity be weighed when assessing game violation penalties?
It seems to me that there’s a special place in Game and Fish jail for folks who mistakenly kill grizzlies. Is this due to the bear’s dynamic stature in our modern world?
Any way you slice it, game violations are often colored gray and punishment largely rests on the discretion of the agency or officers in charge. Like all of us, sometimes they get it right and sometimes they overstep.
What’s your opinion… are accidental killings of grizzly bear fines too high?