A groundbreaking bill that has offered a glimpse of hope for animal advocates in California, has just been introduced by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco). The Bear Protection Act (SB 252), that is sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), would finally ban all ‘sport hunting’ of black bears in the state.
Shockingly, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) currently allows hunters to kill up to 1,700 black bears in a single season. This legislation would ban all ‘sport hunting’ of black bears, while this is a historical move in protecting bears throughout California, there are sadly still exemptions including situations in which bears can be killed to protect human safety, public property, livestock, and endangered and threatened species, and for scientific research.
If successful, California would be the first state to offer this level of protection for bears and would set an example for the rest of the nation.
As a symbol for not only California, but for the rest of North America, it is believed that as many as two million black bears once roamed the majority of wooded areas on the continent. Sadly, agriculture, urban developments, and intensive hunting devastated their population by 1900.
Although their population has improved, increasing stress due to climate change and wildfire-induced habitat loss has put a serious strain on California’s black bears, and recreational hunting has only further endangered their population. While habitat loss has created an uptick in human-bear conflicts in recent years, hunters rarely remove those problem bears from the population. Instead, they target non-offending bears in remote areas, far from where conflicts occur.
California has already implemented many protections for wildlife, including bans on hound hunting of bears and bobcats, the hunting of mountain lions and bobcats, and all recreational trapping. A recent poll showed that 70% of California voters do not support sport hunting of black bears, and 62% would support legislation to ban the practice.
“Over the past few years, black bears have faced unprecedented habitat loss due to climate change and wildfires, and continued ‘sport hunting’ in California makes survival an even tougher climb,” said Senator Wiener in a statement. “It’s time we stop this inhumane practice once and for all.”
“Californians deeply value the environment and have shown time and again that they don’t want to see their iconic wildlife slaughtered for sport,” said Sabrina Ashjian, California State Director for the Humane Society of the United States. “By passing The Bear Protection Act, California can cement its position as a leader in protecting our natural resources and spare thousands of California’s majestic and beloved black bears from a needless and unnecessary death.”
Please contact your state lawmakers to voice your support for banning the hunting of bears throughout California and urge them to commit to passing this critical bill. Find your representatives HERE!
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