HomeOutdoorsCalifornia Withdraws Bear Hunting Ban After Major Backlash

California Withdraws Bear Hunting Ban After Major Backlash

(Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Over 27,000 individuals signed an online petition calling for reversal to legislation that would completely ban bear hunting in the state.

Thanks to state and national hunting associations organizing online, Senate Bill 252 – “The Bear Protection Act” – will not pass into law for California. As a result, California hunters will retain their rights to harvest black bears.

The proposed bill, sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States, went before the Senate in late January. S.B. 252 claims California’s bear population is under threat from “inhumane” bear hunting in the state. Local hunting legislation and the species’ status in CA, however, show otherwise.

Within days, the online campaign against S.B. 252 was amassing support in both evidence and signatures. Taking to Change.org, opponents of the bill started a petition to combat what they describe as a bill “not based on science, biology, or wildlife management.”

“S.B. 252 aims to end all black bear hunting in California,” the petition begins, before stating the above.

After touching on the economic cost of 252 for Californians, the petition also states that “S.B. 252 falsely assumes it will end trophy hunting of bear which is already illegal in California as the meat from a bear must be taken according to California Fish & Wildlife law.”

Moreover, the petition cites “S.B. 252 falsely claims the bear population in California is in jeopardy.  Actual science and wildlife studies refute this evidence as the bear population in California has grown 400% in the last 40 years.”

“S.B. 252 is deceptive and wildly dangerous.  It’s unacceptable,” the petition continues.

Activists Cite Wildlife Science to Protect CA’s Bear Hunting Rights

Within the same petition, organizers urged supporters of Californians’ alongside state wildlife to contact the legislators behind 252. Citing wildlife studies completed in the state, the petition continues that:

“According to a 4 year study in California conducted by wildlife biologists on deer equipped with gps & vhf collars bear are (1) the leading cause of deer fawn mortality and (2) the study points to bear causing mountain lions to kill more deer because of bear carcass stealing from lions.  Lions already need to kill 1 deer per week,” the organizers state.

“With bear numbers constantly rising (as our own states wildlife professionals have logged), this has led to a significant decline in deer numbers.  Based on science & data S.B. 252 will cause even more damage to California’s wildlife.  We must protect California’s Wildlife,”  the petition concludes.

In addition, California State wildlife officials acknowledge that their black bear population is thriving, and is nowhere near endangerment. Local paper The Sacramento Bee cites that the statewide bear population “was between 10,000 and 15,000 bears” in 1982. Now, however, the black bear population is “conservatively estimated to be between 30,000 and 40,000 animals,” state officials tell them.

Furthermore, bear hunting season is closed by CA state officials if 1,700 black bear harvests are reported within a season. As a result, California bear hunting is already heavily monitored. In 2020, bear season ended December 27 with just 919 bear harvests reported out of 30,394 licensed bear hunters.

Science & 27,000 Signatures

Alongside the scientific data, mass opposition to the bill reached California Sen. Scott Wiener, the proponent of 252, as well.

Change.org has now marked the petition as a “Victory” with over 27,000 signatures, with many of the participants reaching out to Wiener to oppose the hunting ban.

As a result, a spokesperson for Wiener cites the pandemic as one of several reasons why “this isn’t the time to focus on this right now,” to The Sacramento Bee. With this statement, S.B. 252 is no more.

For extensive coverage on Wiener’s proposed bill and its case, see: San Francisco Lawmaker Introduces Bill Looking to Ban Black Bear Hunting in California. Up Next: