Bear Trust International

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Bear Trust International (BTI) is a Missoula, Montana-based organization that claims to work to "to conserve all 8 species of the world’s bears, other wildlife, and habitat" and to "reinforce ecosystem viability through habitat conservation and education projects that build on timely research."[1]

BTI has lobbied against bear and wolf protection legislation alongside a number of gun lobby and sport-hunting advocacy organizations including the Boone & Crockett Club, Safari Club International, and the National Rifle Association. As of 2014, BTI was listed as a member of the American Wildlife Conservation Partners, "a consortium of 49 organizations that represents the interests of America’s 20 million hunters, their families and the economies of many rural communities,"[2] alongside many of these same advocacy groups.[3][4] BTI was a 2016 sponsor of the Boone & Crockett Club's 29th Big Game Awards, held July 14-16, 2016 in Springfield, Missouri.[5]

Lobbying Against Bear Protection

BTI lobbied against H.R. 5534, the Bear Protection Act of 2008[6], legislation introduced by Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) to protect bears illegally harvested for their viscera. BTI was joined in this lobbying effort by a host of pro-sport hunting organizations including the National Rifle Association and the Boone & Crockett Club. [7] [8] They also opposed the reintroduced version of the same legislation, H.R. 3480, in 2009.[9]

BTI has also lobbied to delist populations of gray wolves from protection under the Endangered Species Act.[10] [11]

Lobbying for H.R. 2406, the SHARE Act

Bear Trust International is among the undersigned in a February 2, 2016 letter lobbying US congressional leaders to support proposed legislation H.R. 2406, the Sportsman's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act.[12] This legislation, which on February 26, 2016 passed the US House of Representatives,[13] aims to "protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting, and for other purposes" and includes the following provisions, among others:[14]

  • Enables the Secretary of Interior to authorize import permits of 41 polar bears legally harvested from approved populations in Canada before the polar bear was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 2008
  • Requires Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) lands to be open for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting unless specifically closed
  • Exempts lead shot and lead tackle from regulation by the U.S. EPA under the Toxic Substances Control Act
  • Prevents the Departments of Interior and Agriculture from regulating the use of ammunition and fishing tackle based on lead content
  • Extends and increases states’ authority to allocate Pittman-Robertson funding for shooting ranges on public lands, and encourages federal land agencies to cooperate with state and local governments to maintain shooting ranges
  • Authorizes ivory to be imported or exported under the African Elephant Conservation Act and the ESA if the raw ivory or worked ivory is solely for a museum; if it was lawfully importable into the United States on February 24, 2014, regardless of when it was acquired; or if the worked ivory was previously lawfully possessed in the United States[15][16]

STEM Education Programs

BTI offers "science-based education programs" with a goal to "help youth develop conservation awareness through scientific inquiry."[17] These STEM-based lesson plans are currently offered free to K-8 teachers in the United States through the National Science Teachers Association.[18] When these lesson plans were proposed for Wyoming schools in November 2016, they were criticized by local citizens and conservationists for not including any scientific information related to climate change, alterations in habitat, and resulting food source losses, with some claiming the lesson plans to be "pure propaganda" and to have a "pro-hunting slant."[19]

Position on Recreational Hunting of Nuisance Bears

A 2016 standard paper in the Journal of Applied Ecology co-authored by BTI Executive Director Melissa Reynolds-Hogland and Utah State University Ph.D. student Jarod Raithel advocates for the recreational harvest, i.e. sport hunting, of nuisance black bears as a means of reducing human-bear conflict in New Jersey.[20][21][22]

Grizzly Bear Delisting

BTI supports the delisting of the grizzly bear from Endangered Species Act protections in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.[23] Bear Trust has worked with former US Fish and Wildlife Service Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator Chris Servheen , who was "instrumental" in helping to found BTI, according to BTI's web site.[24] Chris Servheen oversaw the release of the US Fish and Wildlife Service's official Rule to delist Yellowstone grizzlies in 2007, a rule which was overturned by Montana’s federal District Court in 2009, with the overturning upheld in 2011 by the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.[25] The courts ruled that the USFWS and Servheen "had disregarded or misrepresented a large body of relevant science" in the proposed delisting of the grizzly bear with regard to whitebark pine seeds, an important food source for grizzlies.[26] Whitebark pine in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem has been ravaged by an unprecedented outbreak of mountain pine beetle as a direct result of climate change.[27] Chris Servheen has stated in the 2016 proposed grizzly bear delisting rule that "most grizzly bear biologists in the United States and Canada do not expect habitat changes predicted under climate change scenarios to directly threaten grizzly bears (Servheen and Cross 2010, p. 4). These changes may even make habitat more suitable and food sources more abundant."[28]

Corporate Sponsors

BTI's corporate sponsors have included BP, Exxon Mobil and the Dallas Safari Club.[29]


Accessed May 2017: [30]


Accessed May 2017: [31]

Contact details

Bear Trust International
PO Box 4006
Missoula, MT 59806
Phone: (406) 523-7779
melissa AT

External links

Articles and Resources

Related Sourcewatch


  1. Bear Trust International, "Vision and Mission," organizational website, accessed March 7, 2016.
  2. Boone & Crockett Club, "American Wildlife Conservation Partners: Wildlife for the 21st Century," organizational page, accessed March 7, 2016.
  3. American Wildlife Conservation Partners, "AWCP Partners," archived page, September 8, 2014, accessed March 7, 2016.
  4. American Wildlife Conservation Partners, "Wildlife for the 21st Century, Vol. IV," lobbying document, January 21, 2013, accessed March 7, 2016.
  5. Duncan, Greg. "Bear Trust International to Sponsor Boone & Crockett Club's 29th Big Game Awards." The Outdoor Wire. May 6, 2016. Accessed November 27, 2016.
  6. "H.R. 5534, Bear Protection Act of 2008", legislation, March 5, 2008.
  7. Various organizations, "Letter to President Barack Obama Opposing the Bear Protection Act of 2008 (page 1)," lobbying letter, March 6, 2008, accessed March 7, 2016.
  8. Various organizations, Letter to President Barack Obama Opposing the Bear Protection Act of 2008 (page 2)," lobbying letter, March 6, 2008, accessed March 7, 2016.
  9., "Organizations that took a position on Bear Protection Act of 2009," accessed March 7, 2016.
  10. Various organizations, "Letter to President Barack Obama Urging Him to Support Removal of Endangered Species Act Protections for Gray Wolves (page 1)," letter, March 6, 2008.
  11. Various organizations, "Letter to President Barack Obama Urging Him to Support Removal of Endangered Species Act Protections for Gray Wolves (page 2)," letter, March 6, 2008.
  12. Various Organizations, "Letter to Speaker Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy Urging Them to Support H.R. 2406, the SHARE Act," lobbying letter, February 2, 2016, accessed March 15, 2016.
  13. Congressional Sportsman's Foundation, "House of Representatives Passes Bipartisan SHARE Act, Supports America’s Hunters and Anglers," media release, February 26, 2016, accessed March 15, 2016
  14. Congressional Sportsman's Foundation, "Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act of 2015 Summary," February 2, 2016, accessed March 15, 2016.
  15. "Text of the SHARE Act,", March 1, 2016, accessed March 15, 2016
  16. "H.R.2406 - SHARE Act," legislation summary,, accessed March 15, 2016
  17. Bear Trust International, "Free STEM Education," organizational website, accessed March 7, 2016.
  18. Debra Shapiro, "Teaching STEM With the ‘Bear’ Necessities," NSTA WebNews Digest, March 14, 2012, accessed March 7, 2016
  19. Kylie Mohr, "Grizzly Lesson Plan Runs Into Resistance," Jackson Hole News & Guide, November 30, 2016, accessed February 18, 2017
  20. Raithel, J.D., Reynolds-Hogland, M.J., Koons, D.N., Carr, P.C., Aubry, L.M., "Recreational harvest and incident-response management reduce human–carnivore conflicts in an anthropogenic landscape," Journal of Applied Ecology, 29 November 2016, accessed May 28, 2017
  21. "Harvest of nuisance black bears in New Jersey reducing human-bear conflicts,", 28 November 2016, accessed May 28, 2017
  22. Muffoletto, Mary-Anne, "USU Scientists say Regulated Hunting key to Black Bear Conservation," Utah State Today, 30 November 2016, accessed May 28, 2017
  23. Bear Trust International, "Proposed Delisting of GYE Grizzly Bears," organizational web site, accessed November 27, 2016
  24. "Feds Grizzly Czar Servheen “instrumental” in founding Bear Trust International with renowned trophy hunter; organization shills for a “who’s-who” of grizzly delisters," Native News Uncensored, April 23, 2016, accessed November 27, 2016
  25. "Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Inc. vs. Servheen," United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, November 22, 2011, accessed November 27, 2016
  26. David Mattson, "Partisan Scientists in Public Service I: The Strange Case of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team," Counterpunch, April 1, 2016, accessed November 27, 2016
  27. William W. Macfarlane, Jesse A. Logan, and Wilson R. Kern, "An innovative aerial assessment of Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem mountain pine beetle-caused whitebark pine mortality," Ecological Applications, 23(2), 2013, pp. 421-437, accessed November 27, 2016
  28. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, "Removing the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Population of Grizzly Bears From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife," The Federal Register, March 11, 2016, accessed November 27, 2016
  29. Bear Trust International, "Spotlight," organizational website, May 14, 2013, Internet Archive Wayback Machine, accessed June 4, 2017.
  30. Bear Trust International, "Board," organizational website, accessed May 28, 2017.
  31. Bear Trust International, "Staff," organizational website, accessed May 28, 2017.