SLO County supervisors joined the anti-bear-hunting rally cry on March 16, telling the California Fish and Game Commission that declaring open season here isn’t the right way to control the black bear population.
Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution decrying a Fish and Game proposal that could allow unprecedented hunting of black bears in a portion of SLO County. Also in the proposal, Fish and Game proposed increasing the allowable statewide kill limit from 1,700 to 2,500 bears, and allowing hunters to use such technological advantages as GPS systems to track and kill bears.
Fish and Game commissioners will make a final decision at public hearings in Sacramento, Ontario, and Monterey on April 21, but a SLO County hearing is mysteriously absent despite intense public opposition.
“I remain convinced that it is not the right thing to do to expand open season hunting here,” Supervisor Bruce Gibson said.
Every supervisor scrutinized the Fish and Game proposal noting the questionable way in which state officials determined the health of the local bear population. The resolution acknowledges five bears were hit by cars between 2004 and 2008, but the notion those accidents indicate a population in need of thinning by hunters is widely ridiculed.
“I would say we have not opened season on domestic cats because domestic cats have been hit by cars,” local activist Eric Greening said.
Though there have been “12 reported public safety incidents involving black bears in the state since 1980,” the resolution states, there has never been a confirmed incident in this county.
Criticisms stretch well beyond SLO County. A coalition of environmental groups claiming to represent more than three million Californians sent a letter to Fish and Game on March 13 saying, “The agency has not demonstrated any need for these regulatory changes other than to placate hunting interests.”
Fish and Game officials contend their studies show a local bear population fully capable of sustaining increased hunting.
In addition to the resolution, supervisors also indicated they would lobby Fish and Game to hold a local public meeting instead of forcing local residents to drive hundreds of miles to be heard.