Black bear hunters fail to reach limit for sixth straight year
January 10, 2019
As 2018 ended, so did one of the more contentious outdoor activities in California — black bear hunting season.
This season, which ran from Aug. 28 through Dec. 30, hunters harvested a reported 1,260 black bears in California, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, out of 1,700 bears that were available to be taken.
Black bears have been classified as a game mammal in the state since 1949, according to the department, and after crackdowns on poaching in the 1980s along with increased restrictions and improved abilities to monitor populations, the department has reported a substantial increase in bear population during the past three decades.
"The population is growing," said California Department of Fish and Wildlife information officer Peter Tira. "Overall, bear populations are very healthy in California."
Black bears are now being observed in areas they were not seen 50 years ago along the Central Coast and Transverse mountain ranges of Southern California. Between 30,000 and 40,000 black bears are now estimated to occupy 52,000 square miles in California, according to the department, compared to an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 in 1982.
A law was also passed in 2012 banning the use of dogs for the purpose of hunting bears, which has now resulted in six straight years of hunters not reaching the limit placed on bears taken.
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Information for bears harvested in Placer and Nevada counties isn't yet available, but the department's most recent report — released last June for the 2016 season — showed that nearly five percent of bears harvested in California came from the two counties. Of the more than 27,000 bear tags issued in 2016, just 3.9 percent of hunters were successful in filling their tag.
"And a lot of those were taken, incidentally, when folks were out hunting deer," said Tira. "A lot of the devoted bear hunters were also dog folks as well."
The primary goal of the department's black bear management program, according to the department of fish and wildlife, is to maintain a viable and healthy black bear population.
For more information on hunting in California, visit Wildlife.Ca.gov.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of The Union. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.