Help Stop Bear Hunting in California

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Originally Posted: 28 January 2010

Help Stop Bear Hunting in California

FROM Big Wildlife

Urge the California Fish and Game Commission to ban bear hunting in California. TAKE ACTION BEFORE FEBRUARY 3, 2010 when the commission will vote.


California Fish and Game Commission
1416 Ninth Street
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94244-2090
phone (916) 653-4899
fax (916) 653-5040


Every year, more than 2,000 bears are legally killed by hunters across California, with the most bears killed in Siskiyou, Trinity, Humboldt, Shasta, and Tulare counties. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 black bears are legally hunted each year in the US and Canada, while an unknown number are also illegally poached. To make matters worse, it is legal for trophy hunters in California to chase bears with packs of hounds.

On February 3, the California Fish and Game Commission will consider changes to the state's mammal hunting regulations. In our comments to the Commission, Big Wildlife will urge the state to ban bear hunting across California. We urge you to help end bear hunting in the state.

See the video, Bear Dogs at Work.


Dear California Fish and Game Commission:

I understand on February 3 the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) will consider changes to the state’s mammal hunting regulations. As part of that process, I urge the Commission to adopt new regulations banning the hunting of black bears throughout California. Specifically, I urge the Commission to ban bear hunting in California because:

Trophy hunting puts additional pressures on bears, who face a host of increasing threats from poaching, habitat fragmentation and destruction, human encroachment into wildlife areas, aggressive government lethal control programs, and climate change.

State wildlife officials have failed to assess the impacts of poaching. Illegal killing of bears has increased globally, fueled by a booming international market, for bear parts, especially bear gallbladders used in traditional Asian medicine and bear paws, considered a delicacy in soup. Bear gallbladders can go for $5,000 a pound, an enticing price that has spurred bear poaching in California. Poaching of wildlife has become epidemic across the state. Violations rose from 6,538 in 2003 to 17,840 in 2007. The illegal sale of California wildlife and wildlife parts generates an estimated $100 million a year, second only to the illegal drug trade, according to California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) officials. Yet, the state has just 358 game wardens patrolling 300,000 square miles of land and water. It makes no sense to permit bear hunting when state wildlife law enforcement capabilities are so crippled.

Trophy hunting ignores the ecological value of bears. Apex species, such as bears, cougars, and wolves, play critical roles in maintaining ecosystems. Black bears often scavenge for food, playing an important role in recycling carrion. Bears also help transport berry seeds. Along salmon spawning streams, bear scat and the remains of fish carried into the woods contribute to the long-term nutrient cycle in old-growth forest. Even cambium feeding by bears, which sometimes kills trees, creates widely scattered snags that benefit other species of wildlife.

The state has failed to assess the impacts of annual increases in bears killed by hunters. According to CDFG data, the number of bears killed legally by hunters has steadily increased well beyond the agency's own 1,700 annual season limit. Yet, the CDFG has yet to analyze how these dramatic increases have affected state and local bear populations, behavior, social structure, reproduction, and cubs.

Hunting black bears is cruel, unethical, and environmentally harmful. In California, bears can be legally chased by hounds, treed, and then shot by hunters. Hounds have been known to pursue bears with cubs, increasing the risk that cubs could be separated from their mothers, then orphaned. It is not uncommon for hounds to maim bears, especially cubs, and even more common for bears to maim or kill an entire pack of dogs. In addition, hounds may pursue non-targeted animals, including imperiled species, putting additional stress on those species. Bears can also be killed with bow and arrow, which studies reveal produce an unacceptably high wounding rate.

Again, please end this cruel and inhumane “sport” in California. Instead of permitting bears to be shot for trophies, the state should strengthen safeguards for these magnificent animals. Thank you.


Thank you for everything you do for animals!