Will bear hunting go the way of the bobcat and mountain lion? A California state senator has just introduced legislation to ban black bear hunting in the state. If passed this move would follow both mountain lions and bobcats hunting bans.
Senator Scott Weiner introduced Senate bill 252 know as the Bear Protection Act. If passed the bill would ban the hunting of black bears in California. Exceptions would be made for situations in which bears can be killed to protect human safety, public property, livestock, and endangered and threatened species, and for scientific research.
The bill was introduced at the behest of the Humane Society of the United States, a extremist animal rights group. They claim that climate change and wildfire induced habitat loss is the reason for the proposed ban.
“Over the past few years, black bears have faced unprecedented habitat loss due to climate change and wildfires, and continued sport hunting in California makes survival an even tougher climb,” said Senator Wiener. “It’s time we stop this inhumane practice once and for all.”
“Californians deeply value the environment and have shown time and again that they don’t want to see their iconic wildlife slaughtered for sport,” said Sabrina Ashjian, California State Director for the Humane Society of the United States. “By passing The Bear Protection Act, California can cement its position as a leader in protecting our natural resources and spare thousands of California’s majestic and beloved black bears from a needless and unnecessary death.”
The Sportsmen’s Alliance disagrees with the senator’s assessment of the condition of bears in California.
This legislation directly undermines the role of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife plays in deciding how wildlife should be managed in the state. Bear populations have been steadily increasing in California since the 1980s when the population was between 10,000 and 15,000. Presently, the CDFW conservatively estimates between 30,000 and 40,000 black bears statewide. These population estimates clearly demonstrate a need for continued bear management to minimize human-wildlife conflict, which can include dangerous encounters.
This is another blatant example of politicians attempting to manage wildlife through emotion and not science. There is absolutely no scientific reason as to why California’s black bear population can not sustain a regulated bear hunt. Black bears are thriving and there is no indication that that will change any time soon.
“When it comes to hunting and wildlife management, California has developed a well-earned reputation for ignoring science and data as the legislature continually kowtows to the animal-rights lobby,” said Bruce Tague, vice president of government affairs at the Sportsmen’s Alliance. “Wildlife experts agree that hunting is the best method for controlling predator populations, including the prolific black bear population. Bears are in no danger of becoming extinct in California, but it’s pretty clear many legislators prefer that hunters themselves would be.”
In my book, Why We Hunt: The Five Motivations of the Modern Hunter, I use California as an example of how wild game management should not work. I talk about their ban on mountain lion hunting and how what used to be a money-generating operation with the selling of tags has now turned into a revenue loss.
Before the ban, about 300 mountain lions were killed annually by hunters. After the ban, the same number of mountain lions were killed by paid trappers. Nothing changed except that before the ban hunters could salvage the meat and hides, now they are destroyed.
The mountain lion hunting ban did nothing to help the cats and the same would hold true for black bears. Wildlife should be managed by science and not emotion.