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California bear hunting season opens Saturday

August 11, 2010 |  9:03 am
Black bear Bear hunters who haven't yet purchased their 2010 tags and plan to hunt on Saturday's opening day should get to a California Department of Fish and Game office no later than Thursday. That's because all DFG offices may be closed Friday due to state furloughs on the second, third and fourth Fridays each month. (An Alameda County Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order on Monday blocking Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger from enforcing the mandatory time off. The Schwarzenegger administration appealed the decision Tuesday.)

Bear tags can only be purchased in person at DFG's regional offices, including the License and Revenue branch in Sacramento, or through the mail. Offices are otherwise open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The general season for black bears opens concurrently with the general deer hunting seasons in deer zones A, B, C, D, X8, X9A, X9B, X10 and X12 (specific dates can be found in the Big Game Hunting Digest, pages 22-28). In the remaining deer X zones, the bear season will open Oct. 9. All of the general bear seasons will end Dec. 26, or earlier if the statewide quota is met.

The 2010 statewide archery bear season starts Aug. 21 and will run for three weeks, closing Sept. 12. The Friday before the archery opening day may also be a furlough day.

Fish and Game will close the bear season early if 1,700 animals have been reported taken statewide. For daily updates on the reported bear harvest, call (888) 277-6398, or visit the bear management website.

Bear hunting is not without controversy in the Golden State. Earlier this year, DFG-proposed changes to the bear hunting season were again shelved after a coalition of more than 70 animal welfare organizations, including Big Wildlife, Los Padres ForestWatch and the Humane Society of the United States vehemently opposed the proposal. The plan, which included increasing bear hunting areas, the number of tags issued and quotas, was tabled because the department was unable to respond in writing to the large number of public comments received on the changes as required by law.

-- Kelly Burgess


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