Yesterday, the California Fish and Game Commission tabled an effort to expand the state’s already aggressive black bear hunting program, rejecting a proposal to increase the allowable kill from 1,700 to 2,000 animals. The centerpiece of the state’s hunting program has long been to allow trophy hunters to use packs of hounds to chase and tree bears and allow hunters to shoot the animals from trees.
As we have in each of the previous two years, The HSUS led the effort to block this expansion of bear killing. Our team submitted substantive legal and biological comments, testified before the Fish and Game commission, met with Department officials, and made state legislators aware of the pending proposal.
Twenty state leaders joined Assemblymember Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, to sign a letter to the Commission opposing the quota increase, concluding, “These new regulations are in no way justified or fiscally prudent. This annual cycle of unjustified expansions will chew up constituent and Department staff time.”
The Los Angeles Times editorial board last Saturday agreed with us that all hound hunting of bears should be outlawed, and also suggested the Commission “should try to get estimates of regional bear populations before moving to increase the quota.”
A statewide survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. has revealed that three in four, or 74 percent, of California voters oppose expansion of black bear hunting while only 17 percent support it. The survey results were consistent in every geographic region of the state and in every political and gender demographic, with all regions and political affiliations represented.
The poll also revealed that 83 percent of California voters oppose allowing packs of dogs to chase and kill bears—with 75 percent of voters saying they would support a statewide ballot measure to end this trophy hunting method that puts bears, dogs, and other wildlife in jeopardy of serious harm, suffering, and death.
For the moment this wrong-headed idea of expanding the bear hunt has been tabled, and that’s where it should stay.