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California officials want to increase black bear hunting

As outdoor activities in California go, bear hunting is not particularly popular. Officials estimate that, at most, 1% of the state’s population hunts black bears.

Many of the other 99% are appalled that anyone does. “I think most people think of it as an anachronism,” said state Fish and Game Commissioner Michael Sutton, who speculates that the state’s voters may soon ban bear hunting. Bear hunting has come a long way since the 1920s, when ranchers and farmers wiped out the grizzly, leaving its sole California presence on the state flag.

Gone are the days when you could kill a bear anytime, anywhere, any way. So Sutton and his fellow commissioners — hunters all — weren’t surprised when proposals to expand black bear hunting drew protest.

Nearly 70 environmental, community and animal welfare organizations have lined up against the proposals, most notably the Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and various chapters of the Sierra Club.

In San Luis Obispo County, the board of supervisors passed a resolution last month opposing expansion of hunting into their area.

“We find the totality of the proposal to be unsporting, unfair, inhumane and reckless,” said Jennifer Fearing, the Humane Society’s Sacramento lobbyist.

But officials at the state Department of Fish and Game say they proposed the changes because California’s black bear population is flourishing and spreading.

On Wednesday the commissioners will vote on whether to allow bear hunting in San Luis Obispo County and to increase the hunting area in Lassen and Modoc counties.

They’ll also decide whether to eliminate a cap on bear kills per season and allow bear hunters to put collars with GPS tracking devices on their hounds.

Black bears long have thrived from Northern California down to Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, according to Doug Updike, the department’s game program manager and a wildlife ecologist.

In the last few decades, he said, Fish and Game biologists have seen more bears in San Luis Obispo, Modoc and Lassen Counties.

The number of bears statewide, meanwhile, has “increased from under 10,000 in the early ’80s to nearly 40,000 now,” he said. “They get hit by cars, we get reports by property owners that they broke into their houses, we get pictures, we know what bear prints look like,” he said.

-- Carla Hall

Comments () | Archives (7)

Come on people. We're not talking about hunting Yogi Bear here. The herd needs to be thinned out. The population of bears is exploding to a point that they are starting to come out of the foothills above Los Angeles and into neighborhoods. Wait until a child gets hurt or killed by one. You'll see people change their tune real quick!

I was totally against hunting and killing California Black Bears, and after reading this article I would very much like to kill as many of them as I can. Go California!

Are you kidding me? "Many of the other 99% are appalled that anyone does"? Is it OK to make stuff up for ledes now, or are there any actual facts behind that statement?

Live and let live.
Stop killing things for killing's sake.

This is a pretty fairly balanced article. The only problem is that our CA Dept. of Fish and Game says things like "if more than 40% of the bears killed are female, then there's a problem" but then they fail to say publicly that their own statistics indicate that the average percentage is OVER 40% for the last 13 years. This is just one of the indicators that they are highly overestimating the number of bears in order to satisfy the small but very vocal gun and hunting lobbies. Bears are coming in to residential areas precisely because their habitat is being destroyed and they are being terrorized by hunters with their dogs. CA black and brown Bears are not aggressive and no one has ever been killed in CA and many other states ever in recorded history. They are easily scared away, but the Dept. of Fish and Game along with hunters, want to create so much fear in the public so as to perpetuate their game of hunting.
I hope people will do the research before they so readily condemn our bears to death. Check out the N. American Bear Center for the facts.

Just because you get a permit.. does NOT mean you will get a bear... HSUS wants everyone to think that bears are cute cuddly Disney figures.. sure.. tell that to the bear...when you see one rip your pet apart.. .. or threaten your family.. Fish and Game needs the money.. for the permits.. bears are numerous.. .. this article fails to say how many permits were issued compared to how many bears taken..

and on another topic.. why does a CHARITY.. have a paid lobbyist in our state capital?
Friends Don't let friends Donate to the HSUS.. a charity that uses donations to fund LOBBYISTS

Our family has owned a house in the southern Sierra, for 20 years, in a very rural, tree covered area. We have never encountered a bear on our property, and have never had neighbors comment about "bear trouble".

Our family has, however, lost a much beloved cow to a teen aged boy who was "deer hunting" nearby, and "accidentally" shot the cow in the chest, at very long range.

The last thing residents of populated mountain areas from Auburn, California south need are a bunch of yahoos running around, claiming to be "hunting bears". Instead of bears it will be people and their horses and cattle who will be shot.

The practical realty is that bullets from guns as small as "22s" can travel as much as a mile, with long range guns/rifles and their bullets designed to travel a long range going even fuller.

The practical reality is that "hunting" of both deer and bears, using modern guns/rifles causes bullets to travel far from where the hunter stands, with the bullet trespassing through private property and presenting the very real risk of maiming or killing people and private property very far away.

The reality is that victims of long range shootings by hunters virutally never find out who fired the shot, let alone recover any money damages from the hunter. If a person is hit by a long range hunter's shot, sheriffs in rural communities are hard pressed to find the shooter. In our family's case, the only way we found out who shot our cow is because the teen aged hunter bragged about it at school.

As a matter of logic and moral principle, there is no "right" to discharge a firearm which shoots and propels a bullet well past the the location where the hunter may legally be walking. This is what bear hunters and deer hunters want to do. The hunting of bears and deer with long range guns and ammunition should be banned, at the very least.

Yes, there may be bear problems in California's mountain parks filled with people bringing food attractive to bears. California and Federal park rangers deal with those issues.

However, those who live in California's Sierras will tell you that we are not overrun by bears, and do not have terrible bear problems. We do not have bear problems period. There is no reason for the California State Government to put us at risk and to endanger us by inviting more strangers to hunting in our rural communities with long range ammunition customarily used for bear hunting. These hunters are not brave enough to "hunt bears" let alone deer using short range ammunition.

By way of example, I am sure tha residents of Altadena, Sierra Madre, Monrovia, Bradbury, Azusa and Glendora, in neighborhoods near the publicly owned forests, would not appreciate being put at risk of being shot by the long range ammunition used by bear hunters.

If our California Fish & Game Department wants to expand the risk to Californian humans, let alone their horses, cattle and dogs, from an increase in "authorized bear hunting", then it's clear that Fish & Game's executives and officers do not give a rat's patootie about human life and are only pandering to their hunter friends, by recklessly putting rural Californian's lives and property at risk.

I can only hope that a change in California's governorship will bring us a rational human being who will see the light, and remove these jerks at California Fish & Game who would even consider expanding bear hunting. The deer hunting season is dangerous enough, thank you very much..


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