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Animal welfare: California's black bears dodge another bullet

Black Bear The California Fish and Game Commission decided at its meeting Thursday in Ontario not to increase the quota of bears that can be hunted in the state each year. Currently, hunters are allowed to kill 1,700 bears. State  Department of Fish and Game officials had contended the bear population was robust enough to sustain a quota of 2,000 each annual hunting season, which lasts roughly from October through December.

An editorial in The Times on Saturday had urged the commissioners not to increase the hunting quota without first getting a better sense of regional bear populations within the state. The commissioners, who set policy for the Department of Fish and Game, also directed its officials to move toward managing bears regionally.

Bear hunting is not a popular sport, and the commissioners -- appointed by the governor to steward the wilderness for both hunters and non-hunters alike -- know that.

"We are being asked to do something today that more than 99% of Californians don't like and don't want, and that is to increase the bear hunting quota," Commissioner Michael Sutton said later. "The science says yes we could increase the bear hunt. In addition to paying attention to the science, we need to be mindful of the politics… We weigh the science, we weigh the various stakeholders and we weigh the opinions of the majority of Californians."

Technically this issue could be revisited and voted on at the commission's meeting next month. Department of Fish and Game officials asked for more time to present more detailed environmental documents on the quota issue. Could the commissioners increase the quota then? Possibly. But  "the political winds are blowing in the other direction -- leaving it where it is," said Sutton.

This is the third year in a row that the issue of raising the bear quota has come before the commission, prompting outcries from animal welfare advocates.

"My sincere hope is that this is three strikes and it's done," said Jennifer Fearing, the California state director of the Humane Society of the U.S., which led the opposition this year once again.  "All we're saying is leave it alone," she said of the bear hunt quota, noting that a poll commissioned by her organization found substantial numbers against increasing it. "We're reflecting the overwhelming sentiment of Californians."

Update: A previous version of this post said the California Fish and Game Commission met Wednesday, May 4. They met the following day.


Bull's-eye on bears

--Carla Hall

Photo: Black bear roams through a neighborhood in Monrovia. Credit: Rudy Libra


Comments () | Archives (10)

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big al

Finally, some good news for animals. Idaho and Montana have declared open season on wolves so that the NRA members can have some fun shooting dogs. Boycott all products from those states.

Ed Duboce

"The Science" referred to would also conclude that we could shoot every fifth man, woman, and child in Los Angeles and still have more than enough people to have a sustainable population. Just because you could doesn't make it a good idea, does this guy not get this?


Too bad they can't increase the quota on the Neanderthals that kill bears for fun.


Leave the bears alone !
No one eats bears; people kill them strictly as a sick form
of entertainment called "sport hunting".


I just saw a PBS documentary on California. part of it talked about how there were tons of bears all over the state, then when the Spanish came people started to kill them off then when it was part of Mexico it got worse, and then they got killed off to near extinction when the gold rush hit. It was super interesting, I had no idea that there were so many bears.


Many of you think that all hunters hunt the bears for their fur. I hunt them because they are great table fare. Yes, Audrey, I eat them. Hunting them is not easy, but I like knowing the meat I eat isn't full of hormones. It's a challenge and yes, once they are killed we use all of the meat to feed our family.


Yeah, Montana and Idaho manage their game...that is why we have more animals in our state...healthy populations...wolves...lets put some in downtown LA and San Fran...you play with them. Watch one kill, all the way through...a wolve killing any animal you pick...then talk to us.

Brett Bumz

So all you people saying leave the bears alone i have a question. What happens when they eat/mall/kill your family pet or worse one of you kids or yourself. The bear population in Ca has grown rapidly over the years due to people like yourselves. They eat human food which will kill them, along with coyotes, wolves, and wild boars. You all talk like as hunters, we want to kill every last bear in ca and that's not true. We Are more about conservation than people who want to leave nature alone. We want it to sustain life of all animals for our kids and their kids to hunt on this beautiful land. In a balance to much of one animal will kill the rest of the habitat. Have any of non hunters ever sat in on a hunter eduction class? You might want to check it out before you all jump to hippie conclusions


Bear hunting not popular? Last year California sold over 24,000 bear tags. The HSUS poll? They polled 800 people or about .00026% of California's population. Bear meat is mighty tasty compared to some of the beef in the supermarket. The HSUS wants to wipe out all hunting and has direct connections to the ALF, a group classified by the FBI as domestic terrorists. Want to know more go to humanewatch.org





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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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