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April 8, 2009 - Plan to Expand Bear Hunting in California Bad News for Bears


CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO OF BEAR HUNT. WARNING: VIDEO IS DISTURBING.

San Luis Obispo, CA
– A broad coalition of conservation, animal welfare, faith, and student groups urged the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) to scrap agency plans to expand trophy hunting of black bears across the state. The coalition – led by Action for Animals, Animal Emancipation of San Luis Obispo County, Big Wildlife, The Humane Society of the United States, and Los Padres ForestWatch and joined by more than three dozen national and California organizations – oppose two recent proposals by the CDFG that would permit hunters to kill an unlimited number of bears across California and allow trophy hunting of bears in San Luis Obispo County for the first time. In an April 8th letter to the agency, the organizations said the bear hunting proposals were misguided, unnecessary, and scientifically indefensible. Both bear hunt proposals will be discussed this Thursday at a California Fish and Game Commission hearing in Lodi.
 
“The California Department of Fish and Games plan to expand bear hunting is bad news for bears. Instead of letting trophy hunters turn these magnificent animals into throw rugs by the fireplace, the agency should vigorously protect bears,” said Brian Vincent, Big Wildlife’s Communications Director.
 
Last month, the CDFG announced sweeping changes to bear hunting regulations, including lifting all numerical limits to bear hunting and opening a new bear hunt in San Luis Obispo County. Previously, the agency had closed bear season after 1,700 bears were reported killed. The CDFG now plans to lift this "closure mechanism" and permit an unlimited number of bears to be killed during hunting season, even though thorough analysis has not been conducted to determine the impacts this action may have on bears across the state. The agency has also proposed hunting of bears in San Luis Obispo County for the first time, which could negatively impact the health and stability of this subpopulation of black bears. That hunt could begin this summer, with more than 50 bears hunted each year.
 
“The Fish and Game Department has jumped the gun on this proposal," said Jeff Kuyper, Executive Director of Los Padres ForestWatch. “Not only does the agency lack the resources needed to control illegal poaching in the state, but it also lacks the basic scientific data needed to properly evaluate the impacts of bear hunting along California's central coast. Fish and Game is not acting in the best interests of our state's wildlife.”
 
The organizations said they opposed expanding bear hunting for a number of reasons:
 
•    Trophy hunting of bears puts populations at risk, ignoring the ecological value of these animals. Bears often scavenge for food, playing an important role in recycling carrion. Along salmon spawning streams, bear scat and the remains of fish carried into the woods contribute to the nutrient cycle in old-growth forest.

•    The CDFG proposals fail to assess the impacts of poaching. Illegal killing of bears has increased nationwide, fueled by a booming international market for bear parts. Poaching of wildlife has become epidemic in California. Violations rose from 6,538 in 2003 to 17,840 in 2007. Yet, the state has fewer than 200 active-duty game wardens patrolling 100 million acres. It makes no sense to expand hunting opportunities when state wildlife law enforcement capabilities are so hampered.

•    Hunting black bears is cruel, unethical, and environmentally harmful. In California, black bears can be legally chased by hounds, treed, then shot by hunters. Hounds have been known to pursue bears with cubs, increasing the risk cubs could be separated from their mothers and left orphaned. It is not uncommon for hounds to maim bears, especially cubs, and even more common for bears to maim or kill an entire pack of dogs. In addition, hounds may pursue non-targeted animals, including imperiled species. Bears can also be killed with bow and arrow, which studies reveal produce an unacceptably high wounding rate.

•    Attempts to initiate a bear hunt would be reckless due to the indeterminate demographics of the areas black bear population. The CDFG conducted a two-year study on the San Luis Obispo County bear population. While that study – which involved hanging cans of fish from tree limbs – may indicate where some bears are located, it is hardly a scientifically credible method for determining the number of bears and the composition of the bear population in the county. Other methods, such as radio telemetry and DNA analysis of hair or scat, are far more reliable for determining bear populations.
 
"Why is the California Department of Fish and Game considering expanding bear hunting when the state doesn't have nearly the resources to enforce hunting regulations and wildlife protection laws?” asked Peggy Koteen, Director of Animal Emancipation of San Luis Obispo County.
 
"The proposed black bear hunt in San Luis Obispo County is strictly a trophy hunt for heads and hides. Hunting will not reduce bear-human conflicts and research reveals that as the number of bears killed by hunters increases, the number of conflicts with bears increases accordingly,” said Megan Sewell, Deputy Manager, Wildlife Abuse Campaign of The Humane Society of the United States.

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Groups on the April 8th letter include:

Action for Animals • All for Animals, Inc. • Animal Emancipation • Animal Perspective • Animal Protection and Rescue League • Animal Switchboard • Animal Welfare Institute • Bear League • Big Wildlife • Born Free USA • California Church IMPACT • California Federation for Animal Legislation • Center for Biological Diversity • Chico For Animal Rights • Contra Costa Humane Society • Earth Island Institute • Environment in the Public Interest • Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo • Environmental Defense Center • Environmental Protection Information Center • Grizzly People • Green Party of San Luis Obispo County • In Defense of Animals • Kind Planet • Klamath Forest Alliance • Last Chance for Animals • League of Humane Voters, California Chapter • Los Padres ForestWatch • North County Humane Society • Orange County People for Animals • San Diego Animal Advocates • San Diego Support Group ~Animals Asia Foundation • Sequoia ForestKeeper • Sierra Club - Solano Group • The Humane Society of the United States • Ventana Wilderness Alliance • Wildlife Alive •


Click here to learn what you can do to help stop bear hunting in California.


Coalition letter to CDFG:

April 8, 2009

 

VIA Email: wildlifestrategy@dfg.ca.gov, director@dfg.ca.gov, jcarlson@dfg.ca.gov, fgc@fgc.ca.gov

 

Dear California Department of Fish and Game:

 

We, the undersigned organizations, vigorously oppose the California Department of Fish and Games (CDFG) proposals to lift all numerical limits to bear hunting throughout the state and to expand trophy hunting of bears into San Luis Obispo County. We believe the proposals are misguided, unnecessary, and scientifically indefensible. Specifically, our groups contend the agency’s plans are flawed because:

 

·         Lifting all numerical limits to bear hunting could dramatically increase the number of bears killed by hunters across California. Previously, the agency has closed bear season after 1,700 bears were reported killed. By lifting this closure mechanism, the CDFG could essentially permit an unlimited number of bears to be killed during hunting season. In addition, the proposal does not address the potential impacts of increased hunting from out-of-state hunters who may flock to California to take advantage of expanded bear hunting opportunities.

 

·         Trophy hunting of bears puts populations at risk, ignoring the ecological value of these animals. Apex species, such as bears, cougars, and wolves, play critical roles in maintaining ecosystems. Bears often scavenge for food, playing an important role in recycling carrion. Bears also help transport berry seeds. Along salmon spawning streams, bear scat and the remains of fish carried into the woods contribute to the long-term nutrient cycle in old-growth forest. Even cambium feeding by bears creates widely scattered snags that benefit other species of wildlife.

 

·         Hunting black bears is cruel, unethical, and environmentally harmful. In California, black bears can be legally chased by hounds, treed, and then shot by hunters. Hounds have been known to pursue bears with cubs, increasing the risk that cubs could be separated from their mothers, then orphaned. It is not uncommon for hounds to maim bears, especially cubs, and even more common for bears to maim or kill an entire pack of dogs. In addition, hounds may pursue non-targeted animals, including imperiled species, putting additional stress on those species. Bears can also be killed with bow and arrow, which studies reveal produce an unacceptably high wounding rate.

 

·         The CDFG proposals fail to assess the impacts of poaching. Illegal killing of bears has increased nationwide, fueled by a booming international market for bear parts. Poaching of wildlife has become epidemic in California. Violations rose from 6,538 in 2003 to 17,840 in 2007. Yet, California has fewer than 200 active-duty game wardens patrolling the state's 100 million acres. It makes no sense to expand hunting opportunities when state wildlife law enforcement capabilities are so hampered.

 

·         Attempts to initiate a bear hunt in San Luis Obispo County would be reckless due to the indeterminate demographics of the area’s bear population. The CDFG conducted a two-year study on the county’s bear population. While that study – which involved hanging cans of fish from tree limbs, with monitors visiting bait sites and recording signs of teeth marks or bear prints – may indicate where some bears are located, it is hardly a scientifically credible method for determining the size and composition of the local bear population. Other methods, such as radio telemetry and DNA analysis of hair or scat, are far more reliable for determining bear populations.

 

Again, we urge the CDFG to abandon its two proposals that would expand trophy hunting of black bears in the state. Thank you.

 

Sincerely,

Brian Vincent, Communications Director

Big Wildlife

PO Box 489

Williams, OR 97544

www.bigwildlife.org

 

Jeff Kuyper, Executive Director

Los Padres ForestWatch

Post Office Box 831

Santa Barbara, CA

www.LPFW.org

 

On behalf of:

Eric Mills, Coordinator

Action for Animals

Oakland, CA

 

Karen Lee Stevens, Founder/President

All for Animals, Inc.

Santa Barbara, CA

 

Lisa Vondle, Volunteer Director

San Diego Support Group

~ Animals Asia Foundation

Encinitas, CA

 

Peggy Koteen, Director

Animal Emancipation of San Luis Obispo County

San Luis Obispo, CA

 

Lisa Franzetta, Director of Communications

Animal Legal Defense Fund

Cotati, CA

 

Carrie Covell, Secretary

Animal Perspective

San Luis Obispo, CA

 

Christina Tacoronti, Coordinator

Animal Protection and Rescue League

San Diego, CA

 

Virginia Handley, President

Animal Switchboard

San Francisco, CA

 

D.J. Schubert, Wildlife Biologist

Animal Welfare Institute

Washington, DC

 

Ann Bryant, Executive Director

BEAR League

Homewood, CA

 

Nicole G. Paquette, Esq.

Senior Vice President & General Counsel

Born Free USA

Sacramento, CA

 

Elizabeth Sholes, Director of Public Policy

California Church IMPACT

Sacramento, CA

 

Karen Raasch, Director

California Federation for Animal Legislation

Sacramento, CA

 

Peter Galvin, Conservation Director

Center for Biological Diversity

Whitethorn, CA

 

Shannon York, President

Chico For Animal Rights

Chico, CA

 

Lisa Kwietniak, Board Member

Contra Costa Humane Society

Hercules, CA

 

John Knox, Executive Director

Earth Island Institute

San Francisco, CA

 

Gordon R. Hensley, San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper

Environment in the Public Interest

San Luis Obispo, CA

 

Morgan Rafferty, Executive Director

Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo, CA

 

Brian Trautwein, Environmental Analyst

Environmental Defense Center

Santa Barbara, CA

 

Liz Apfelberg, Secretary

Green Party of San Luis Obispo County

San Luis Obispo, CA

 

Jewel Palovak, Executive Director

Grizzly People

Santa Monica CA

 

Elliot Katz, President

In Defense of Animals

San Rafael, CA

 

Rev.Diane of The Sanctuary, Director

Kind Planet

Creston, CA

 

Kimberly Baker, Forest and Wildlife Protection Coordinator

Klamath Forest Alliance

Orleans, CA

 

Amber Renee, Campaigns Director

Last Chance for Animals

Los Angeles, CA

 

Richard G. Mc Lellan MD, Director

League of Humane Voters – California Chapter

Los Angeles, CA

 

Sandra Rakestraw, President

North County Humane Society

Atascadero, CA

 

Dina Kourda, Director

Orange County People for Animals

Yorba Linda , CA

 

Linda Kelson, President

San Diego Animal Advocates

Encinitas, CA

 

Georgette Theotig, Chair

Sierra Club – Kern-Kaweah Chapter

Tehachapi, CA

 

Gregory Peterson, Executive Committee

Sierra Club - Solano Group

Fairfield, CA

 

Andrew Page, Senior Director

Wildlife Abuse Campaign

The Humane Society of the United States

Washington, DC

 

Tom Hopkins, President

Ventana Wilderness Alliance

Santa Cruz, CA

 

Mark J. Palmer, Director

Wildlife Alive

A Subproject of Earth Island Institute

San Francisco, CA