Archivos de diario de enero 2021

26 de enero de 2021

California Would Ban Bear Hunting Under New Legislation, Even as Wild Population Rebounds

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By: Ryan Sabalow
January 26, 2021

A San Francisco Democrat has introduced a bill that would ban black bear hunting in California, despite a bear population at its highest levels in decades and repeated conflicts with the wild animals in Lake Tahoe and other high-tourist areas

On Monday, state Sen. Scott Wiener introduced Senate Bill 252, “The Bear Protection Act” sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States.

The bill would ban California’s sport hunting season that now allows for 1,700 bears killed in the fall and early winter. Under the bill, bears could still be killed under a permit to protect public safety, livestock and for scientific research.

“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,” Wiener said in a news release announcing the bill. “It’s time we stop this inhumane practice once and for all.”

The legislation is likely to create another pitched battle between the considerably large and vociferous animal-rights and hunting communities in California, which itself features a now-extinct California grizzly bear on its flag and is home to tens of thousands of square miles of wilderness hunting grounds stretching from Southern California to the Oregon border.

Wiener cited public opinion polls showing that a majority of Californians support a ban on hunting bears, and he argued that hunting has no effect on population sizes near communities where bear conflicts are common, because hunting is impractical or off limits in those areas.

Locally, around Lake Tahoe, bear populations have grown to some of the largest densities in the country, and bears have been aggressively breaking into vacation homes, and attacks on people happen from time to time.

The bill’s introduction comes as California’s statewide bear population has more than doubled in the past four decades. Black bears are not endangered. State officials estimate that in 1982, the statewide bear population was between 10,000 and 15,000 bears. The black bear population is now “conservatively estimated” to be between 30,000 and 40,000 animals, state officials say.

California’s limited bear-hunting season has had no impact on this statewide population growth.

In 2011, with bear populations growing, the state proposed increasing the state’s annual harvest quota to 2,000 bears, but the plan was scuttled after fierce opposition from the state’s influential cadre of environmentalists and animal rights activists. The same year, the state legislature banned hunting bears with hounds in a bill pushed by animal rights activists who called it barbaric.

The hound-hunt ban took effect in 2013, and dramatically reduced the number of bears hunters killed in California.

The way California’s bear season works is an unlimited number of licensed hunters are allowed to buy a $49.42 permit known as a “bear tag.”

If they kill one, hunters are required within one business day to bring the skull to a Department of Fish and Wildlife office to have the head examined by a state biologist. The bear kill is included in the state’s harvest tally. If hunters hit the 1,700 quota, the season is immediately canceled before its late December end date. California game warden can cite a hunter if he or she shoots a female bear with cubs.

Since the ban on hunting black bears with hounds, the state’s hunters haven’t come close to hitting the 1,700-bear kill quota.

Last year, the season ended on Dec. 27 with the state’s 30,394 bear-tag holders killing just 919 bears.

Supporters of bear hunting say Wiener’s bill, if it should pass both the state Assembly and Senate and be signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom later this year, would deprive the state of a key source of funding for California’s wildlife habitat. And hunting associations say it undermines the state wildlife agency’s campaign to boost declining rates of hunters.

The state’s 235,000 licensed hunters play an outsized role in supporting habitat and wildlife. In California, around a quarter of the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s budget is paid through hunting and fishing licenses and taxes on hunters’ firearms and gear.

Bear tags generated $1.39 million in revenue last year for the state’s wildlife agency. The money goes into a big game management fund that supports habitat preservation for bears and other species including deer, elk, pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep.

“Those dollars are used for (habitat) projects, research and things that are critically important to the management of all big game species,” said Bill Gaines, a lobbyist for various hunting causes. “So this would have serious impacts across the board.”

Animal rights activists often describe bear hunting as a cruel bloodsport whose sole goal for hunters is trophies, but bear meat is a delicacy for many hunters.

Because of their varied diet of animal flesh and vegetable matter, bear meat is similar in flavor and texture to pork, and bear fat is often used for pie and pastry crust.

Male bears are often called “boars” and females are called “sows,” which is traced back to their pig-like flavor and eating habits.

Wiener’s legislation is the latest bill that’s sought to protect charismatic predators and big game species from what activists describe as trophy hunting.

Last year, the Legislature passed a bill that would prohibit hunters from importing trophies such as lions and elephants from Africa.

Gov. Newsom was unable to sign the bill due to it not making it to his desk before a legislative deadline. His predecessor, Gov. Jerry Brown, vetoed similar legislation in 2018, saying the ban “would be unenforceable.”

In 2019, the state legislature banned bobcat hunting. The same year, Newsom signed a bill banning recreational fur trapping.

In 1990, Californians voted to permanently ban hunting of mountain lions, despite sport hunting for cougars not being allowed since Gov. Ronald Reagan signed a moratorium in 1972.

Ingresado el 26 de enero de 2021 por out_west_jess out_west_jess | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario