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Communications Director, Big Wildlife

As reported in the article “Bear hunting plan draws fire” (April 2), the California Fish and Game Commission has proposed the hunting of black bears in San Luis Obispo County. What the article missed was the commission’s other plan to expand bear hunting across California. Both proposals are bad news for bears.

In addition to permitting bear hunting in the county, the commission proposes lifting all numerical limits to bear hunting throughout the state. Previously, the agency closed bear “season” after 1,700 bears were reported killed. By eliminating this cap, the agency could permit hunting of an unlimited number of bears.

Big Wildlife opposes trophy hunting of bears for a number of reasons. The methods used to hunt bears are cruel. In California, bears can be 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. It is not uncommon for hounds to maim bears, especially cubs. Bears can also be hunted with bow and arrow, an especially inhumane method.

We believe killing these magnificent animals for “sport” is indefensible. Bears face growing threats throughout the world. Sprawling housing developments and industrial-strength logging in California have destroyed or significantly altered bear habitat. Hunting and aggressive government lethal control programs have increasingly put bears in the crosshairs. And poaching of bears to feed a black market in bear parts has taken a heavy toll on the species. It is time to ban the blood sport of bear hunting altogether.

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