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Wildlife advocacy group against proposed changes to California bear hunting regulations

February 3, 2010 | 10:06 am

Black_bearCalifornia Department of Fish and Game recently posted the draft environmental documents regarding proposed changes to bear hunting regulations, and one animal welfare group is already vehemently opposing the proposal, which if approved would allow for expanded bear hunting in California.

"Bear hunting is nothing more than legalized cruelty," Brian Vincent, communications director of Big Wildlife, told Outposts. "The agency's plans to expand bear hunting across California fly in the face of good science and public opinion."

A summary of the proposed changes include: incorporating additional areas of the state to allowed bear hunting; increasing the current quota to 2,500 bears; raising the number of bear tags issued to 30,000; eliminating the current in-season closure mechanism, instead ending the season on the last Sunday in December; and allowing global positioning system collars and treeing switches on dogs used while bear hunting. (The entire 171-page document can be viewed online.)

"Bear hunting is a blood sport, and permitting hunters to use hounds to chase bears to exhaustion is glorified dog fighting that pits hounds against bears," Vincent said.

"The public was rightfully outraged when it was revealed that Michael Vick was forcing dogs to fight each other. Why then is it legal for houndsmen to engage in what is essentially animal fighting?"

Big Wildlife plans to put forward extensive comments when the proposals are submitted at the California Fish and Game Commission meeting Thursday in Sacramento.

"Big Wildlife is especially shocked that the California Department of the Fish and Game would recommend the use of GPS devices on hounds," Vincent said.

"If the cap on bears killed is lifted, new areas are opened up to bear hunting across California, and hunters are permitted to easily track bears with high-tech gadgets, it will be open season on bears in the state. And bears will have nowhere to hide."

The Department of Fish and Game is seeking written comments from the public on the proposed changes through March 13. They should be submitted to: Dr. Eric Loft, Chief, Department of Fish and Game, Wildlife Branch, 1812 Ninth St., Sacramento, CA 95818.

Comments received from the public about the draft environmental documents will be incorporated into the final environmental documents that are scheduled for completion in April.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Black bear. Credit: Lynn Chamberlain / Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

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