New Jersey Congressman Greg Gianforte Thinks Grizzly Bears Are Planning To Eat Your Children

You can take the man out of New Jersey, but it appears you can’t take the New Jersey out of the man. Republican Congressman and Montana gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte demonstrated that adage this month when he told the U.S. House of Representatives that grizzly bears should be delisted from the Endangered Species Act because the bears are trying to break into houses and eat children.

No, really:

Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Montana) said on the floor of the House of Representatives that grizzly bears are turning to children as food sources.

“Parents told us how they put bars on their windows because the grizzly bears were looking in their children’s bedrooms. At the point bears view children as a food source, we need to make changes. We need to put human safety ahead of the recovered grizzly bear,” Gianforte said, when introducing a bill that would amend the Endangered Species Act.

Gianforte’s remarks to the House were not driven by science, but the anecdotes Gianforte thinks substitute for rigorous research and analysis. Dave Mattson, who has studied grizzly bears for two decades, noted that Gianforte’s remarks betrayed an ignorance about the animal:

“Representative Gianforte’s statement is yet another example of the evidence-free hyperbole that has come to typify our political discourse. It degrades the dignity of his political office and insults the intelligence of anyone who is the least bit informed about grizzly bears,” Mattson said.

Montanans might disagree about whether grizzlies should still be listed on the Endangered Species list, but we understand that we should respect wildlife enough to prevent unnecessary conflict with the animals and not rely on the kind of fearmongering and bad science that led to grizzlies being pushed to the edge of extinction in the lower 48.

I get that grizzlies are probably terrifying to Gianforte: you can’t throw money at them to make them go away, and they are more intimidating than the bears he’s probably accustomed to from back home, but his fear and ignorance should not drive federal policy.

Science and respect for Montana’s wild creatures should. Maybe someday Congressman Gianforte will understand that.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

7 Comments

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  • As a former Alaska resident (and bear hunting guide) I can assure everyone that Gianforte’s bear concerns are ridiculous. If he is truly concerned about the safety of Montana children, he should be supporting, rather than opposing, legislation to insure they all have access to adequate health care. (I’m also a former physician.)

  • How did we ever survive before Jersey Greg came along?

    I remember going up to Heart Butte to play basketball one time. The announcer came on and asked that the parents pick their kids up after the game. Why? Because a grizz had wandered across the campus earlier in the day. Ho hum. No big deal. No panic. Just life in grizzly country. Something Jersey Greg would never understand. The Native people do.

    We are seeing more and more grizz around a Great Falls, and most people love it.

  • Gianforte is not a New Jersey Congressman. The fact that he is from New Jersey doesn’t make him stupid. His religious beliefs have a lot to do with the stupidity, but being from NJ does not. I know the Dems say calling out the fact that he is from NJ polls well, but how did that work the last two times he ran?
    Signed-Jersey Sue

    • But, being from New Jersey is cultural. I mean, my God! Guy moves here from Jersey and expects, believes, and essentially demands that he be safe in the wilds! How weird is that? Look, I wouldn’t dare move to his state and demand that I’m safe while walking around in the inner city! I’m not that stupid. Ginofarte doesn’t understand that you don’t have the right to move to a new state and re-make it into where you came from! He just doesn’t share our history, culture, and values. If he really wants to not get eaten by wildlife, maybe he should’a stayed in Jersey!

  • Ginanforte is probably the most egregious fool and thug that has ever held an honored post in the House of Representatives in the history of Montana.
    This guy is truly a disgrace to this State of men and women of great stature. Whereas this political thug is all that is wrong with the United States, he has brought his gangster attitude along with him and we’d do well to reject his management style of assault. Yes, indeed he is infected by Trumpism and it is a rampant social disease that may not have a cure!

  • This specific bit of fear mongering likely comes directly from the public comments of one particular member of the Governor’s grizzly bear advisory committee, Trina Jo Bradley, a Rocky Mountain Front rancher.

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