Deidre Bainbridge, a Jackson Hole environmental activist and attorney, was a champion for all wildlife. Deidre was raised in northern California in the small town of Ukiah. After high school she attended the University of California, Berkeley receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degree, going on to the University of California, Davis to earn a Juris Doctorate degree.
Deidre was a force in fighting for the rights, well-being, and management of wildlife. There were few other voices more powerful than hers that have spoken in defense of the creatures she so loved, respected, and enjoyed. Inspiring others to do the same, Deidre spent days and nights passionately conducting research on issues important to the betterment and preservation of the creatures she believed were gifted to this earth. Deidre was a true warrior for wildlife but especially for the Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear. She was involved in many efforts over her lifetime to help save this magnificent animal from being destroyed by advancing civilization. Deidre was an inspirational and powerful voice for these creatures she so loved, respected, and enjoyed.
The grizzly is currently protected under the Endangered Species Act, but there have been ongoing efforts by governmental agencies, ranchers, hunters, and others to reduce its numbers through trophy hunting and specific animal destruction, as well as removal and alteration of its habitat, territory, and food sources. Deidre believed the bear had a right to live in its natural environment, as it had for tens of thousands of years with Native Americans, and not be trapped or hunted to extinction. She thought grizzly bears could co-exist with mankind if mankind would learn and understand the nature and practices of the bear. It now seems obvious that we never feed bears, leave our trash cans unlocked, hike in bear territory alone, or try to take close-up photos of a bear and her cubs. And, of course, it is always wise to carry bear spray when hiking. But Deidre found that most people did not seem to understand such basic rules about co-existing with bears, so she made it her goal to the grizzly and other bears by engaging in a lifetime of educational and activist projects.
One of the environmental groups Deidre collaborated with was Grizzly Times, a not- for-profit founded by Louisa Willcox and Dr. David Mattson of Livingston, Montana, to provide a voice for the threatened grizzly. Through regular blogs, reports, podcasts and videos, Grizzly Times shares scientific analysis, management critiques, and stories of humans' shared history with grizzlies with those committed to ensuring that grizzlies flourish.
Deidre was both an advisor and a friend of the Grizzly Times' family. She helped with their first video as a sponsor and enthusiastic supporter. She provided important legal research and advice on a regular basis on a variety of matters, especially grizzly bear mortality, management and deteriorating habitat conditions. Deidre was a passionate advocate for expanding the grizzly's range in response to
climate-driven losses of key native foods, including white bark pine and spawning cutthroat trout.
Among Deidre's and her friends' more notable successes was the formation of the "Shoot 'em with a Camera" social media campaign by Deidre, Lisa Robertson, Judy Hofflund, Heather Mycoskie, and Ann Smith. "Shoot 'em" was created spontaneously by these wildlife warriors to counter a decision by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission in 2018 to issue 22 permits for hunting of male grizzly bears. The founders' strategy was to encourage concerned citizens who were not hunters to register for the lottery in which the permits would be awarded. Deidre was instrumental in researching and advising the founders about the myriad state and federal rules, regulations and loopholes governing this lottery. In only two weeks, this initiative raised some $44,000 for permit fees and encouraged over 2,000 friends of the grizzly, including conservationist Jane Goodall, photographer Thomas Mangelsen, and scientist Cynthia Moss, to register for the permit lottery. Among concerns the "Shoot 'em" participants had was that many famous grizzlies, including the remarkable Grizzly 399, who has mothered 17 cubs, could be shot by a hunter by mistake, or otherwise.
Fortunately, just before the hunt was to begin, it was stopped by a Temporary Order against Wyoming issued by Federal Judge Dana L. Christensen. The Judge granted a permanent injunction. However, the big win for the grizzly was that the "Shoot 'em" campaign and its related publicity reached untold thousands of people worldwide, raising awareness of the iconic Yellowstone grizzly bears and the fight to save them.
Deidre was always one of the first to act when a grizzly or cubs were in danger. She petitioned state and federal agencies many times to set up neon lit signs to warn motorists to slow down because there were bears on the road, a practice that is prevalent to this day. At hearings and meetings, Deidre was always armed with facts and an outspoken advocate for the grizzly. Her feelings were genuine and deep, as her words will attest:
"Out of fear, we act in haste and make mistakes. When a rifle is used, the mistake can be a mortal wound to the soul of humanity. Let us walk lightly and with respect among our wild."
"I can only live where it is truly wild and that is where I can walk among the grizzly. When the wild is gone, so is our soul."
"The grizzly bear is essential to my life."
Deidre Bainbridge passed away suddenly in late 2019. Her friends and family, including the grizzly bears, will remember her as a great friend and champion.