Click here to watch video of bear hunt. WARNING: video is disturbing
State bear hunt comes to close this month with killing of more than 1,700 Bears
Sacramemto, CA – Wildlife advocates condemned California officials today for continuing the state's annual black bear hunt, which began in August and draws to a close this month. The wildlife protection group, Big Wildlife, said trophy hunting of bears is scientifically indefensible, unethical, and cruel and urged the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) to end bear hunting altogether. Every year, nearly 2,000 bears are legally killed by hunters in California, with the most bears killed in Siskiyou, Trinity, Humboldt, Shasta, and Tulare counties. ( Click here to review CDFG bear kill numbers by county.) An estimated 40,000 to 50,000 bears are legally hunted in the U.S. each year while an unknown number are also illegally poached.
”Bear hunting is bad news for bears. Instead of letting trophy hunters turn these magnificent animals into throw rugs by the fireplace or a head on the wall, the agency should provide vigorous protections for bears,” said Brian Vincent, Communications Director with Big Wildlife, an international wildlife advocacy organization.
Big Wildlife said it opposed bear hunting for a number of reasons:
- *The CDFG has failed to assess the impacts of poaching. Illegal killing of bears has increased nationwide, fueled by a booming international market, for bear parts, especially bear gallbladders used in traditional Asian medicine and bear paws, considered a delicacy in soup. Bear gallbladders can go for $5,000 a pound, an enticing price that has spurred bear poaching in California. Poaching of wildlife has become epidemic in California. Violations rose from 6,538 in 2003 to 17,840 in 2007. The illegal sale of California wildlife and wildlife parts generates an estimated $100 million a year, second only to the illegal drug trade, according to CDFG officials. From 2005-2007 illegal bear kills alone went from nine to 49. Yet, the state has fewer than 200 active-duty game wardens patrolling 100 million acres. Big Wildlife said it makes no sense to permit bear hunting 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, 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. Bears can also be killed with bow and arrow, which studies reveal produce an unacceptably high wounding rate.
- *Hunting puts additional pressures on bears, who are facing a host of threats from poaching, habitat fragmentation and destruction, human encroachment into wildlife areas, aggressive government lethal control programs, and climate change.
- *Hunting of bears ignores 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.
"From August until December, life is unbearable for bears in California," said Vincent. "Chasing bears to exhaustion with hounds and gunning the terrified animals down isn't 'sport.' It is cold-blooded killing of one of Nature's most majestic animals" Vincent said.