There’s still time to speak out against bear hunts that put mothers and newborn cubs in danger

By on October 6, 2021 with 15 Comments

Update 11/19/2021: Today, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to not allow the 2022 spring bear hunt! The 4-4 vote means that mother bears and their dependent cubs will be protected from trophy hunting at a time when they are most vulnerable.

For all of us, fall is a time for winter preparation. For black bears, that means packing on the pounds to build a fat layer robust enough to withstand months of winter hibernation without eating, and even more so for female bears who will birth and care for newborn cubs during their denning season. But black bears are not the only ones looking forward to spring when they can finally emerge from their slumber—trophy hunters are also loading their guns, stocking their bait and readying their hounds for the chase.

A handful of state wildlife agencies in the western U.S. are currently planning their spring black bear hunting seasons, when trophy hunters will be allowed to target bears soon after these iconic and beloved animals emerge from hibernation. When they come out of their dens, black bears are malnourished, lethargic and vulnerable, which makes hunting them at this time exceptionally cruel. Hunters also put newborn cubs at risk of being orphaned, and cubs under nine months (or more) cannot survive without their mother. If a trophy hunter kills a mother bear, her orphaned cubs of the year will die from starvation, predation or exposure to the elements. And in some states, like Washington, Nevada and Arizona, trophy hunters are even allowed to kill the newborn cubs themselves. In the worst iteration of this cruelty, Alaska allows the killing of bears and their cubs while they are still in the shelter of their den.

Even if hunters tried to avoid killing mother bears with nursing cubs, it still happens far too frequently, since a mother bear often keeps her cubs in a tree while venturing off to forage for food. And trophy hunters are notoriously bad at identifying the sex of a bear before the killing.


The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission recently approved a proposal to allow spring bear hunting in 2022, authorizing the sale of more than 10,000 bear hunting tags for the spring season. The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is currently considering its own 2022 spring bear hunting season, and will vote in November on whether or not to allow it to move forward. And the Arizona Game and Fish Department is currently working on an update to hunt guidelines, including those dealing with spring black bear hunting.

We continue to push back against spring bear hunts and the killing of cubs in states that still allow these exceptionally cruel practices. Black bears should be regaining their strength after months in hibernation and caring for their newborn cubs rather than trying to escape from trophy hunters. Certainly, no hunter can justify the killing of newborn cubs who cannot defend themselves or outrun packs of dogs in states where bear hounding is permitted, such as Arizona and Nevada.

A recent poll conducted by hunting groups shows that a majority of people in western states oppose spring bear hunting. The very least wildlife agencies can do is prohibit spring hunts that tear bear families apart and leave cubs to starve. Most states—even those that allow black bear hunting at other times of the year—prohibit the killing of bears during spring and the killing of cubs. There is no reason the remaining states can’t follow suit. These practices are not supported by public values or science.

If you are a Washington resident, there’s still time to voice your opposition to the 2022 spring black bear hunt to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission before they vote on this issue in November.

Follow Kitty Block on Twitter @HSUSKittyBlock.

Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Sarah Taylor says:

    I’m against all bear hunting since you cannot tell the difference between sows and boars. Cubs stay with mom for 1.5 years

  2. Pat Rose says:

    End bear hunting.

  3. Karen Wolf says:

    Absolutely obscene to allow hunting of denned bears with babies 🤬

  4. jeanne c myers says:

    STOP KILLING OUR WILDLIFE. They are just trying to live a normal life. People are the greedy lying problem.

    • Debbie Hunt says:

      I agree. Killing innocent animals is not only cruel but morally wrong.
      And if they are allowed to kill the cub also, that is doubly wrong.

      D. Hunt

    • Nancy S Austin says:

      Animals need to be left in peace, coward humans with weapons need to stop being jealous of the beauty that humans do not possess!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Steven Bagenski says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how killing animals, bears and cubs, can still be a pastime in this day and age. Let’s leave this cruelty in the dustbin of history. Do the right thing. We are all animals with like, dislikes and a desire to live….if you are religious, do you really think this is what our creator wanted to be done to his creation?

  6. Sweet Image says:

    This has to be one of the most DISGUSTING parts of “hunting” in our nation~!! Cubs??? In their dens??? Reeeeally big men and women have to do that…COWARDS and MURDERERS.

  7. Dianne Battle says:

    Do you really call this hunting??? Bring a gun and shoot them while they hibernate or before the cubs can defend themselves. This is not the great American sportsman’s creed. What a shameful practice!

  8. Deborah S Bandzerewicz says:

    I am voicing my opposition to Trophy Hunting and the barbarism enacted on targeted animals.

    There is no reason to cull this many bears and especially do so in the Spring when
    they are weak, lethargic and nursing cubs.

    To kill the cubs is cruel.

    None of this represents sportsmanship but instead represents blood lust pure and simple.

    Finally, I want to know how much the Trophy Industry is offering in political campaign contributions to the Western states involved.

  9. Deb Young says:

    Bear hunting/baiting and I just learned that people use dogs for hunting bear as well. This is inhumane and should not be allowed. Females and those females with cubs should be exempt from the hunt. I do not believe it is necessary to kill these animals. Mother nature culls the population in her own way.


    Cowards and sadly weak minded, pathetic humans do this.

    I am voicing my opposition to Trophy Hunting and the barbarism enacted on targeted animals.

    There is no reason to cull this many bears and especially do so in the Spring when
    they are weak, lethargic and nursing cubs.

    To kill the cubs is cruel.

    None of this represents sportsmanship but instead represents blood lust pure and simple.


  11. Annette Garza says:

    No, no bear hunting, please let them be..totally against bear hunting

  12. Diana Lewis says:

    Bear hunting brings about an imbalance in nature we may live to regret!

  13. Dave Boules says:

    Any hunting or abuse or abandonment
    of any animals for any reason must be outlawed and enforced to the full extent of the law always. No exceptions ever. period

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