Wednesday, March 16, 2011

California bear hunters: Time to speak up

California's black bear population is thriving, and our state's Department of Fish and Game is responding with a proposal to increase the number of bears we hunters can kill each year from 1,700 to 2,000.

Predictably, HSUS is up in arms about the proposal and mobilizing its minions in opposition.

Why does this matter? Because we are in the last few days of a public comment period when people can weigh in on the proposal. These comments from the public will be taken under consideration by our Fish and Game Commission when it decides the matter.

If you're a California hunter, or if you don't hunt, but support lawful hunting in California, please take a few minutes to email DFG in support of this proposal - we don't want HSUS supporters to be the only ones emailing about this. (In case clicking doesn't automatically open an email for you, the address is

After you've sent that email, please share this post with your friends and ask them to do the same. The deadline is 5 p.m. Monday March 21.

Unlike HSUS, I will not write your email for you - having covered politics, I can tell you that decision-makers have a lot more respect for individually-written emails than auto-generated carbon copies.

And unlike HSUS (see "up in arms" link above), I will show you where you can get some facts about the bear-hunting proposal: Here's a link to the state's 107-page draft environmental impact report on the proposal.

But don't worry: If you don't have time to read through that, I've highlighted some key facts below:

1. Like I said, the bear population is thriving. Check out this chart from page 22 of the report:

Wow, big increase, right? Yeah, about 470 percent (I'm guestimating because I'm going off the chart, not raw numbers). That's huge.

2. The bear harvest isn't increasing at even close to the same rate as the bear population. Here's a chart I made from numbers on pages 11-13 of the report:

Wow, much smaller increase, isn't it? Yeah. Exactly 143 percent.

Oh, and in case you noticed that the harvest number has gone over 1,700, here's why: That limit is a cap, and DFG cuts off bear hunting by Dec. 26 or whenever that cap is reached. But there's a lag time between when bears are killed and DFG gets tags back from hunters, so sometimes we go over the cap. This year, we stayed well under the cap at just shy of 1,300. All of this is factored into recommendations regarding the cap.

3. The proposed increase in the bear hunting cap is consistent with state policy, established by our Legislature, which calls for providing hunting opportunities when they are consistent with maintaining healthy wildlife populations (page 8 of the report).

4. The proposed increase would still keep us well within the limits of how many bears can be killed without causing the population to decline. Wildlife managers believe that limit could be raised to 3,100 - far more than the proposed 2,000 (page 25 of the report).

5. Black bear is an excellent food source for families. You can get a lot of bear meat for a $41.86 tag, which is pretty important in a state whose economy is still in the toilet. Our unemployment rate is still 12.4 percent, compared with 9 percent nationwide (click here and scroll down for complete data).

Bear is tasty and filling! I haven't gotten a bear yet, but a friend of ours did last fall, and he shared some of the meat with us. These bear pelmeni that Hank made with the meat were incredible.

Sounds like a lot of good reasons to raise the bear hunting cap, if you ask me.

But before I wrap up, I think it's worth noting that HSUS continues to rely on emotional appeal, telling its supporters that this proposal "seems designed to placate a handful of hunters' desires to chase down more bears with their dogs while adding more heads and hides to their collection."

Or at least, that's what it says now. In a Feb. 3 blog post, HSUS said, "There is no one clamoring for an expanded quota..." So, which is it?

Oh, and by the way, HSUS doesn't have a single bit of data supporting its claim that California bear hunters are motivated by heads and hides. Those folks just like to say that because it riles up their supporters.

© Holly A. Heyser 2011


Albert Quackenbush said...

Thanks for the heads up, Holly. I am writing my letter right now and will be sharing your post. Way to stay on top of this! I am so sick and tired of the HSUS and their tactics. It's time we hunters stood together and pushed forward on something like this.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Thanks, Albert!

Here's what I sent to DFG:

I am emailing in support of the proposal to raise the bear harvest cap from 1,700 to 2,000. It’s clear that the proposed cap is well within the range of what our very healthy bear population can sustain without suffering population declines.

It is a lucky coincidence that our bear population is thriving precisely when our economy is not: Families can get a lot of organic, nutritious meat for the price of a bear tag and the patience to hunt. Given how many people are out of work these days, it makes sense to allow this modest increase in the bear harvest, putting more food on our tables without damaging the health of the bear population.

I know this proposal is unpopular with the “Save the Charismatic Megafauna” crowd, but I would urge the Fish and Game Commission to base its decision on science, not emotional appeals. I am proud to support the science-driven North American Model of Wildlife Conservation because it has led to the healthiest game populations possible in a world where human encroachment has stripped wildlife of so much habitat. I’m also proud that the money hunters spend on hunting has helped support habitat for all animals, game and non-game.

Best regards,

Holly A. Heyser

Jules said...

Thanks for the reminder. I read the proposed regs and then came down with pneumonia and forgot about it. Letter sent!

NorCal Cazadora said...

Thanks, Jules! Please tell a friend or ten... :-)

Angela Kingshill said...

Well said Holly. I will share as well.

Kathy Kniss said...

Thanks Holly,

I just started reading your blog back in December and LOVE, love, LOVE it! I have written to the DFG and included all the bullet points mentioned in this post. I have also posted a link to your blog post on my facebook, linkedIn and twitter account. Many of my colleagues here in construction are also my hunting partners so I expect to see great participation. Thanks for the heads up! Kat the Huntress

NorCal Cazadora said...

Thanks Angela and Kat!

jryoung said...

Done, thanks for the heads up.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Thanks, JR - every voice helps!

Dorian said...

While I don't see myself ever hunting bear, that has no bearing on whether anyone else should and some of the crap I've been forwarded from HSUS on this is unbelievably ignorant.

I'll be sending that email this afternoon,


NorCal Cazadora said...


Last year I met a woman who works in the shelter program at HSUS and she was surprised when I told her I hated the HSUS because of its position on hunting.

She said something to the effect of "we only oppose forms of hunting that are cruel or unsporting."

I had to correct her on that. I mentioned to her several positions HSUS has taken on hunting issues where there was no possible hint of anything that could be conceived as cruel or unsporting (bear hunting, dove hunting, Sunday hunting). I pointed out that HSUS opposes any form of hunting where it thinks it can get traction with the public.

She herself had no problem with my hunting and she seemed surprised to hear what her own organization was doing on this front. Go figure.

David J Blackburn said...

I often wonder why anti-hunting groups don't buy up all the tags and don't hunt. The money spent would probably be less, the money spent would go toward animal management, and fewer animals would die.

NorCal Cazadora said...

David: That would've worked in the past, but DFG eliminated the cap on tags sold in 2,000. The state sold 24,730 tags in 2009, and hunters reported killing 1,905 bears. The state brought in $543.41 per bear harvested, or $1.04 million. (That calculation is based on the 2010 tag price, so the number may be lower if tags were cheaper in '09.)

But don't tell the antis - I'd love to see DFG get more funding for wildlife management. :-)

In all seriousness: There's a general sense that a lot of hunters buy tags so they can take advantage of unexpected opportunities while deer hunting, which is why you see such enormous tag sales for such a small harvest.

Peebs said...

Calif. black bears are really on the rise in my area, when I was younger I saw one bear in all of my hunting and fishing which was a lot well over a hundred days a year then. This year I have seen four different bears and sign of several more. Last year I saw one sitting in a creek pool less than 50yds from a well traveled highway I use to go to work. In this area they have also closed most of the landfills which took away a primary source of food for the bears and they now are really bothering rural homeowners I have heard reports of bears eating cat and dog food out of back yards so while I'll probably never shoot one I have already sent my email.

NorCal Cazadora said...


Re the email, that is. Bummer about the landfill closure creating this ripple effect.

Funny thing is that the HSUS is going to argue, as it did last year, that DFG is all wrong about how well the bear population is doing. That's gonna be fun to watch - some pseudo-biologist trying to spin some numbers to say what science and statewide experience disprove. I might have to videotape that, just to catch the laughter.

CCL said...


Dont let that idiot 7mallards get the best of you over at DHC. He has NOTHING positive to say about anything. Best thing here is that YOU can have him deleted here. No doubt he suffers from small you know what syndrome.

I am surprised he did not comment on your hunting with no dog blog.

I enjoy your articles.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Thanks, CCL!

You got that right about 7mallards. Gotta wonder about a guy who spends all his free time pissing all over all his peers. Must be a very lonely guy.