California bear injured by arrow is first heartbreaking sign of cruel trophy hunting season  

By on September 19, 2022 with 19 Comments

Last week, residents of Arcadia, California, spotted a black bear they were used to seeing around the neighborhood. But this time, something was different. The bear was moaning and was clearly suffering; an arrow was sticking out of his flesh. This is a heartbreaking reminder that black bear hunting season is underway in the Golden State.

During this season, trophy hunters armed with bows and arrows and rifles trample into the woods to try and kill up to 1,700 of the state’s beloved bears. Despite polling that shows a whopping 70% of California residents believe black bears should not be hunted, the California Fish and Game Commission voted down a petition we submitted this past April that would have paused the annual hunt and given bears a much-needed reprieve.

The injured bear in Arcadia has since disappeared, despite attempts by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to locate him. All too often, the use of bows and arrows does not result in a quick, clean kill. Researchers note that their use results in an unacceptable ratio—in one study, as much as 50%—of wounding white-tailed deer, rather than killing them quickly. And black bears are even more difficult than deer to kill with an arrow because of their massive muscles and heavy bones. Online hunting videos also document that wounded bears can sometimes linger in extreme pain before they die slowly from various internal injuries and blood loss.

California’s bears are already facing impossible challenges that have been exacerbated by “megadrought,” the worst drought in the region in more than 1,200 years. Wildfires have ravaged bear habitats throughout the state, and bears fleeing from the flames or trying to find food in burned-out moonscapes are being struck by vehicles in record numbers, particularly mother bears with cubs.

To make matters worse, at the same time of year when trophy hunters are putting bears in their crosshairs, those bears are also beginning their intensive search for food to consume enough calories to survive the winter. They need about 20,000 calories per day—the equivalent of 77 Beyond Burgers—as part of a frenzied eating pattern called “hyperphagia.” The absolute last thing bears need is to worry about dodging arrows and bullets during such a critical time.

Thirty-three states currently allow the trophy hunting of bears. Some states even allow the killing of bear cubs, chasing bears with packs of trailing hounds and shooting bears over piles of smelly junk food and other treats that function as bait to lure them to their deaths.

Currently, California bear hunters are not allowed to use bait or hounds and can kill only one bear each season. However, there are ongoing and disturbing efforts from a small fraction of trophy hunters to change that. Another petition pending before the California Fish and Game Commission would double the number of bears individual hunters can kill. The commission’s Wildlife Resources Committee was expected to discuss and vote on the petition at its Sept. 15 meeting but ran out of time before it could address the petition and hear public comment. During this meeting, bear hunters also urged the state’s wildlife agency to consider allowing springtime bear hunting. In that season, weakened bears—including mothers with newborn or yearling cubs—are vulnerable after just emerging from their dens. These same hunters also favor authorizing the hunting of bears with packs of hounds even though the state legislature banned the practice in 2012.

We have our work cut out for us to protect California’s bears—and all bears—from such blatant cruelty. You can speak up for bears, especially if you live in California, by letting the state’s Fish and Game Commission know that you oppose the trophy hunting of the state’s black bears, and that under no circumstances should the authorities increase the number of bears who can be killed, nor allow such cruel and unsporting methods like hunting with hounds or spring hunting.

Follow Kitty Block on Twitter @HSUSKittyBlock.

Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. John Nash says:

    I understand your hatred of trophy hunting, but facts are facts. This bear was probably NOT wounded by a trophy hunter. A trophy bowhunter pays $1500 – $3500 to hunt a trophy bear and is accompanied by an armed professional hunter able to deliver an accurate coup de grace instantly if needed. With that skill available and not wanting to lose an expensive trophy, the bear would not have escaped the bowhunter and guide. It would still be eaten and the fur used properly.
    This bear was probably wounded by an amateur or poacher, one out of the 40 – 50,000 harvested every year.

  2. Kristi Fox says:

    The “mail to” link in the last paragraph to “let the state’s Fish and Game Commission know” is not working.

    • Wendy Keefover says:

      Hi Kristi, if you click on the link, you should get an email that populates with the Fish and Game Commission’s email. Let us know if that’s not working for you. It’s working on my computer.

      • norma campbell says:

        the connection to Cal F&G is not working cant you just send us their email so we can use hotmail or whatever we use directly.

  3. Lewis Jacobson says:

    Why do you label it as trophy hunting? To intentionally get people riled up is my guess. Every hunter I know in the state of California, and in other states, is not hunting for a “trophy”. They hunt to harvest an animal to feed their family. Healthy, organic, sustainable, locally grown meat. I have a bunch in my freezer. You should try it sometime.

  4. Mark says:

    Strange how licensed hunters are solely referred to as “trophy hunters” which would indicate the only reason for shooting a bear is to say you did. Anyone with knowledge of the CA fish and game code or hunting laws knows wanton waste of meat is a big game violation punishable by the loss of hunting privileges and forfeiture of your gear. I guess it sells HSUS memberships though, so why bother with facts eh?

  5. Blog Editor says:

    A black bear hunt is a trophy hunt. Just because trophy bear hunters are often required to use edible portions of their meat does not alter the fact that pursuing and killing bears is commonly described as “trophy hunting,” not only by other state agencies but also by scholars; see here and here for examples. California bear hunting guides themselves also refer to the practice as trophy hunting. Trophy hunters’ primary motivation is to kill black bears for photo opportunities and to obtain and display bear parts, including, heads, hides, claws and capes. Trophy hunters primarily kill animals for bragging rights, but not for food. Hunting large carnivores for food is unsustainable.

    • Hooks and Broadheads says:

      You do know through the Pittman-Roberson act of 1937, that just in 2021, a total of $679 billion was generated and utilized for wildlife conservation and hunter education to name a few. That money is generated mostly by hunters and fisherman. Fish an game has to monitor many factors each year before they allocate how many tags are released to harvest. I haven’t met one California hunter that only hunts for a mantle piece or trophy. The fact that an archery hunter has to get within 30-40 yards for a fast and humane harvest, should be a clear indication of the amount of time, energy and understanding of the animal and an average archery hunter has roughly a 1 in 10 chance of filling a tag that year. Please, before you label hunters as this or that, understand why individuals hunt. The mount or hide is not a trophy, it is a sign of respect and honor for the animal that was harvested so one can feed their self or family knowing that the meal they consume was earned and dispatched as quickly and humanly as possible. Heck during the 1800’s, bear meat was more prized than any other animal because it contained the much need fats that the human body requires. With out natural fat’s, the human body will suffer protein poisoning. Just my $.02 from a hunter and wildlife conservationists. Always looking for volunteers to help clean up the little public land that we own if your ever free.

      • Blog Editor says:

        Thank you for your comment. An HSUS report, utilizing public data to assess how much trophy hunting actually contributes to overall wildlife conservation funding, found that 94% of wildlife conservation funding is unrelated to hunting of any type, and that trophy hunting of native carnivores like bears is likely to contribute just 0.13% of that funding. In fact, the high cost to state agencies of regulating hunting means that it is unlikely that there is a net funding contribution from trophy hunters to wildlife conservation. We invite you to learn more about this topic here, and read additional information about trophy hunting.

      • María Eugenia says:

        I don’t see how someone can call himself a hunter and a conservationist at the same time. Hunters like to believe that their killings actually help in wildlife conservation efforts. That’s a narrative they really like to believe to appease their minds or feel better but it’s total bs. Go to the grocery store and buy other types of meats for the love of God. This is not the 1930s! You live in fantasy land –what you do is no longer sustainable and clearly backwards. Open your eyes!

    • Brian says:

      You’re wrong.

    • Dee says:

      Thank you for the effort to put this issue in its proper perspective. Hunters are killing these bears for more than the dinner table. Bow and arrow hunting is particularly troublesome because of the suffering the animal endures. As for “ licensed hunters” supposedly being of a higher quality, that’s bs. Sadly there are no tests to prove proficiency before granting a Hunter a license to slaughter wildlife for the fun of it.

  6. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    Esta crueldad tiene que acabar no podemos permitir mas injusticia y violencia no se puede permitir mas son animalitos y merecen respeto

  7. Ali says:

    I don’t see bear hunting as a type of trophy hunting. Bear’s population is exploding in some areas, not like some type of Rhino which only one remains in nature. In some cultures, eating bear is very common (just google Hmong bear hunt).
    Bears eat the fawn of deer and lower the number of deer in one area. They are wild animals that must be managed based on science. I believe the decision must be by fish and game commission, not by general public.

  8. Marnie Gaede says:

    The Angeles National Forest has poachers. One of the most infamous was Clay, AKA the black Robin Hood. He was busted many years ago for illegally killing bear for the gall bladder trade. As soon as his time restricted from the national forest and his jail time was up, he went right back. He threatened to kill my dogs. Bad actor. For there to be poachers, there must also be a market. Poachers won’t stop until there is no longer a trade. They can be apprehended.

  9. Danielle says:

    wish that could stop to no animals deserve any form or cruelty I love bears

  10. Erin Hansen says:

    It is the highest form of cowardice. I have asked President Biden for his attention to this matter and other animal people related issues, and yes for the animals. Thanks to all who spoke out and who care!

  11. Bill Karr says:

    The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) does not believe in ANY scientific management of ANY species of animal anywhere, nor do they care about them, because NOT ONE PENNY of money they receive goes towards care of animals, shelters, or anything pertaining to what they claim to care about. The money all goes towards their salaries, operating costs and anti-hunting advertising. This is a bogus “animal rights” group that’s in it for themselves, and to harass the legitimate management of wildlife through control measures, including hunting. Hunters provide FAR MORE FUNDING for the benefit of all species of wildlife than any organization, and most certainly HSUS, which provides NO FUNDING for wildlife.

    • Blog Editor says:

      The HSUS and its affiliates are the number one provider of animal care among national animal protection organizations in the United States, the number one advocacy organization preventing cruelty and abuse, and the number one provider of training and standards to lift up the entire field of animal welfare. Our funds are spent on program expenses to help pets, wildlife, animals in laboratories, farm animals, marine mammals and other animals at risk in society. And like any responsible employer, the HSUS is also committed to treating its staff fairly. We employ hundreds of employees and believe in paying them a living wage, and our health care and retirement plans are in line with those of other non-profit organizations. You can find additional details on this, including our annual reports and financial information.

      Our wildlife comment letters, blogs and other outreach are all informed by, and include detailed citations to, sound, peer-reviewed biological and social science.

      Statistics from national agencies and bureaus confirm that hunting does not fund conservation. In fact, according to a 2020 economic study by Dr. Cameron Murray, trophy hunters actually depend largely on funding provided by others to continue their pastime, including the vast majority of Americans who view and photograph wildlife, participate in outdoor activities that do not harm wildlife, and visit our national parks, forests and preserves to observe wildlife while they are alive and thriving.
      Our mission is to advocate for a more humane society, one in which animals are spared from the most egregiously painful, unnecessary and cruel abuses by humans. The HSUS has spent decades protecting America’s wildlife from the cruelest forms of trophy hunting, promoting the most up-to-date scientific studies regarding wildlife management (including social science that should inform that management), educating the public about how they can coexist with wildlife, and challenging the notion that wildlife should be managed solely by “traditional” stakeholders as we move into an era where it is necessary to democratize decision-making bodies and prioritize public values and science over traditional use.

      We invite you to view additional responses to the misinformation spread by opponents to our humane agenda.

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