As black bears work extra hard to pack on the pounds and prepare for the barren winter months ahead, trophy hunters are rampaging through their habitats, slaughtering these iconic animals so they can hang their heads on walls. Some states are even allowing these hunters to use dastardly practices like bear baiting–leaving piles of rotting donuts and pastries to attract bears and shoot them—and hound hunting—the practice of having GPS-collared hounds chase down the animals.
Trophy hunting of bears is now in full swing in most states, including in New Jersey, where 336 bears have been slaughtered since the state opened its season last month. This number includes cubs, who have no protections in the state.
In California, which prohibits the trophy hunting of mountain lions and bobcats, trophy hunters have already killed 726 black bears out of the annual quota of 1,700 during the season, which runs from October 10 to December 27.
Missouri, which does not currently allow the trophy hunting of black bears, is taking a step backward and is now considering a proposal to open up a trophy hunt on the state’s small population of just a few hundred bears.
State wildlife agencies are also releasing their proposals for trophy hunting black bears during the upcoming spring months, when these animals are waking up from their dens after a long winter. In Oregon, the Fish and Wildlife Commission recently approved their proposal to continue spring bear hunting in 2021, authorizing the sale of more than 10,000 bear hunting tags for the season.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is considering the state’s 2021 spring bear hunting season and will vote on whether or not to allow it to move forward during their upcoming meeting in early December.
Spring hunts are exceptionally cruel because the animals are just beginning to regain their strength and are at their most vulnerable. Trophy hunters target bears who are weak and unable to fully protect themselves. Often their victims are mother bears with cubs born during hibernation. The orphaned cubs they leave behind, who are just months- or weeks-old, become victims of starvation, predation by other animals and exposure.
Many states have moved to ban spring trophy hunting of black bears because of these reasons. In 1992, Coloradans overwhelmingly passed Initiative 10 to stop the hunting of black bears in spring, along with a ban on bear baiting and hounding. Of the 32 states that allow trophy hunting of black bears, 24 prohibit it in spring.
Black bears play a crucial role in their environments, providing numerous ecological benefits to other wildlife. It is important that states stop allowing trophy hunters to slaughter them and instead educate residents on coexisting with these beloved animals who continue to face severe threats, including overhunting and habitat loss. Bears are naturally shy and typically try to avoid humans. Conflicts with black bears can be easily avoided, especially when residents in areas where they occur take a few commonsense measures, like using bear-resistant trash cans, cleaning up barbecue grills, feeding pets indoors, and using electric fencing around chicken coops and beehives.
If you live in a state that allows black bear trophy hunting, learn how to be an effective advocate for bears and work to end it. Washington residents have a chance to voice their opposition to the 2021 spring black bear hunt right now, by writing to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org before November 26. Tell the commission to end the trophy hunting of black bears during the spring.
In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy is working to end the trophy hunting of black bears in future years and has announced that there will be no black bear hunt in 2021. Residents can write to the governor to voice their opposition to black bear trophy hunting.
The main reason states continue to allow hunting seasons on black bears is because of heavy lobbying by trophy hunting groups who only care about posing for selfies with dead bears and putting down bear rugs in their living room. Missouri’s proposal, in fact, was based on research funded by Safari Club International Foundation. It’s the worst sort of carnage for the most unnecessary reason, and it is something no American should stand for.