Lawmaker pans native tribes’ push to protect bears

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) —  A Republican lawmaker says a push to permanently protect U.S. grizzly bears because they are considered sacred among Native Americans would elevate “sentimental biases” above science.

California Rep. Tom McClintock is the ranking Republican on a House panel that took testimony Wednesday on legislation to ban grizzly hunting outside Alaska regardless of population size. McClintock says the proposal ignores the species’ recovery in parts of the Northern Rockies. He says it would put the public at risk of more grizzly attacks.

Former Hopi Tribe chairman Benjamin Nuvamsa told lawmakers that grizzlies play a central role in the traditions and ceremonies of many tribes. A federal judge last year blocked grizzly hunts in Wyoming and Idaho days before they were scheduled to begin. Attorneys for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are appealing the ruling.

Native American groups are pressing for permanent protections for grizzly bears, a species some tribes consider sacred but that has been proposed for hunting in Wyoming and Idaho.

The measure is sponsored by Arizona Democrat Rep. Raul Grijalva, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.

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