California lawmaker introduces bill to ban black bear hunting

By on January 26, 2021 with 15 Comments

A groundbreaking bill introduced in California today would end all trophy hunting of black bears in the state. If successful, California would be the first state to implement such a ban, setting a magnificent precedent for the rest of the nation to follow.

The bill was introduced by State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, and it reflects concerns over the fragile state of black bear populations in California. The state endured devastating wildfires last year, and wildlife there, including California’s iconic bruins, are struggling to forage and survive in the changing forest ecosystems.

Each year, trophy hunters kill more than 1,000 bears in the state. This places unnecessary pressure on these animals who reproduce at an incredibly slow rate. Female bears don’t even begin reproducing until they’re about four or five years old. They only give birth every two to three years to an average of three cubs, and just a few of those cubs even survive into adulthood.

In addition to their slow reproductive rates, bear numbers are naturally limited by the availability of food, so there is no truth to the assertion that they need to be hunted. Amazingly, if a female is in poor body condition—such as from lack of food—her body will actually reabsorb her eggs during hibernation and she will produce no cubs that winter.

Climate change has also added to the stress bears face, making simple actions for survival, such as finding enough food or staying in their dens long enough to hibernate, difficult.

Most California residents are opposed to black bear hunting: a whopping 70% according to a poll conducted last month by the Remington Research Group for the Humane Society of the United States. This number included majorities in the three top bear-hunting counties of Shasta, Humboldt and Trinity.

The poll also showed that 71% of residents believe that the state should prioritize policies that promote non-lethal methods to reduce conflicts between bears and people.

The number of Californians who hunt black bears, on the other hand, is very low—fewer than 0.1% apply for a bear tag each year.

California wildlife managers looking to reduce bear-human conflicts, which usually happen over food, would get better results by emphasizing co-existence education campaigns. Such conflicts are easy enough to resolve with just a few simple steps like securing garbage, removing outdoor pet food, taking down bird feeders and cleaning up barbecue grills. Hunting cannot resolve this problem because hunters don’t target animals involved in neighborhood conflicts—they’re out in the woods looking for the most impressive trophy. In other words, agencies can’t hunt their way out of human-bear conflicts—only education coupled with actions like trash management work. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has already done some great work to address conflicts with bears through its Keep Me Wild program, and we appreciate the steps they’ve taken to make room for these effective, non-lethal approaches, including hazing, relocation and rehabilitation. We hope it will continue to expand on these efforts.

California has already been a pioneer in ending the cruel trophy hunting of its native carnivores. Back in 2012, with overwhelming public support, the legislature outlawed the use of packs of hunting hounds to chase down bears and bobcats. In the ‘90s, California voters outlawed the trophy hunting of mountain lions. More recently, in 2015, the state banned the trapping of bobcats and followed it up with a trophy hunting moratorium in 2019. It is fitting, and right, that the state should lead the nation by banning the hunting of black bears.

The Humane Society of the United States has been working toward such a ban for a long time and we are extremely grateful to Sen. Wiener for his efforts. If you are a California resident, the bears of the Golden State need your help. Please contact your state lawmakers. Let them know you support ending the hunting of bears in the state and that they should commit to getting this bill passed immediately.


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  1. Douglas Taggart says:

    No animal should end up as a trophy in some person’s home

  2. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    Esto tiene que acabar ya, ya no se puede permitir más violencia sólo por diversión

  3. judy wilkinson says:

    Bravo!! Praying the bill gets passed, and that other states such as North Carolina, follow our lead. Bears are precious creatures of God, and deserve to live their lives in peace.

  4. Jessica lee says:

    Please let me know know what pettissions I can sign 4 bears all over the world l am with many wolf organisations but do not know what bear organisations that. are out there I’m only on disability allowance so I can’t donate but I can sign petitions and share them with all my friends please help me to help them!!!

  5. Patricia Martin says:

    These bears have just as much right to live without the fear of being killed.

  6. Lesli Hattaway says:

    Bears need a great place to thrive

  7. Kathi King says:

    They shouldn’t kill them they been here before us

  8. Mary says:

    Please support this bill to protect black bears in California. We must protect all our wildlife!

  9. John says:

    I believe native wildlife should be restored to historic habitats. Grizzlies and wolves should be reintroduced into southern CA. Laws should protect the rights of native wildlife to exist in historic habitat and require human populations to adapt to the presence of wildlife.

  10. Chris vd Griend says:

    Are they finally listening to the majority of people who are against this sickness that is called trophy hunting?Let’s hope so and let other states follow their policy especially Idaho where no predator is ever safe.By the way these forest fires are often caused by ignorant people and indeed are a threat to wildlife.It s time to be more careful when you visit nature and it is also time to end trophy hunting forgood everywhere.

  11. Ernie Mullenax says:

    Another law put forth by people who have no business making wildlife management decisions. Why ban all hunting of bears? Why not use hunters as a tool to control populations like other states do. Other states have much healthier wildlife populations because fish and game managers understand how to use hunters as a management tool to keep the ecosystem heathy as a whole. Banning all bear hunting forever completely ties fish and games hands should the bear populations get out of control. This law’s label is also completely untruthful. It says that it will ban “sport hunting” when specifically states all hunting. Many California bear hunters utilize the entire animal after a harvest for its meat, hide, teeth, and fur to provide for him or herself and their family. Therefore, it is not considered “sport hunting” and this label is a downright lie designed to tug at emotions come voting time.

    • Payton K says:

      Finally a comment i can stand behind

    • Sam R says:

      People who hunt believe in the concept of conservation. Because we hunt, and have great respect, we to are interested in the conserving the habitat and population of all species of animals.Wildlife Biologists support hunting for the the cause of keeping all species in check ,because humans have increased and habit has been lost.I personally know of many hunters that don’t focus on hunting a so called “Trophy” but do it but do it for conservation and also a way to a way to provide wholesome organic meat to their diet.I firmly believe that we need to have more predator hunts.If you look at the population of deer in California they have decreased significantly in the past 40 year, and it is due too the laws that have been passed that limit hunting the predators that prey on those animals.The population of Bears alone have increased in California in the to around 35,000 up from in the 20’s in the 90’. I haven’t yet met a hunter that doesn’t believe in conservation of habit and animals, and have a keen interest in conserving what we have.

  12. Mari Linch says:

    End bear hunting- Former Teddy Roosevelt even stood up to this!

  13. Alexander York Rojas says:

    Why do you call it trophy hunting? That’s like calling an acai fruit, a “super food”. Scientifically, there are no super foods. It’s a marketing term designed to create an emotional response. Cruel and unusual hunters hunt just for trophies but, the idea that every bear hunter is hunting for trophies is absurd. Plus, if 10% of bear tags are filled, 90% of that is just straight profit for the animal. So, you’re getting a 90% ROI, creating jobs and keeping wild lands in good shape for many years? This bill is silly. You should ban plastic bottles before you ban bearhunting. Bear meat was actually the dominant meat in the pre-colonized America. Bear grease, which is the fat that has been rendered down from heat, was literal currency. Bear hunting is as much an American tradition as anything else. It also helps keeps the predators away from our homes if they can correlate humans with danger, not free food.

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