Featured Voices, Siskiyou

Open Letter: California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Fish & Game Commission

The recently released bear management plan reveals a significant excess in the bear population. Since 2012, sportsmen have attempted to address this issue with the department and commission, but both entities failed to protect our most effective management tool for bears and other predators. Consequently, the annual quota of 1,750 bears has not been met, not even close. The department’s and commission’s inaction and failure to support sportsmen in maintaining sound and effective management practices have led to an estimated bear population exceeding 80,000. A recent report from the department acknowledging a human death attributed to a bear attack should serve as a clear wake-up call for the need for management change.

Not long ago, the commission received a petition from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), calling for an end to bear hunting in California. The HSUS claimed that the department’s then-current estimate of 30,000 bears was incorrect, and that the actual population was much lower. This is the same organization that advocated for the removal of our most effective bear management tool, hound hunting. The department and commission should now recognize that the sportsmen of the state are the true conservationists, possessing the experience and knowledge to help manage the state’s wildlife. The HSUS has lost credibility as they contributed to the population issue and then provided false information regarding population estimates.

The current situation requires drastic measures to return the bear population to a viable level. The previously estimated abundance of 30,000 bears was already high; now, we face an extreme excess. I call upon the department to:

  1. Remove the bear quota until the population is reduced to an acceptable level.
  2. Engage with the state legislature to reinstate our most valuable management tool for bears and predators, hound hunting.
  3. Approve methods of bear hunting such as baiting and spring hunts.

We have reached a point where extreme measures are necessary. The number of cubs born each year alone will far exceed the current quota. The current hunting methods are insufficient for reducing the population to sustainable levels. The commission and department must manage wildlife as intended, without political influence. The lack of support for sportsmen and responsible management practices has significantly contributed to this issue, and they are now responsible for correcting the situation.

Jess Harris
Siskiyou County Resident
CC: US Fish and Wildlife Service

Human-Wildlife Conflicts

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