Big game group opposes proposed Nevada bear hunt ban

Staff report

This 400-pound black bear was tranquilized in a Carson City neighborhood in 2009.
File photo | NEVADA APPEAL

LAKE TAHOE — A Nevada big game group is opposing a proposal before the Legislature to ban hunting black bears.

Nevada Bighorns Unlimited issued a statement last week in opposition to Senate Bill 82 that would prevent the Nevada Wildlife Commission from listing black bears as game animals.

“We are committed to the well-documented fact that hunting has been, and is, an important management tool for all of Nevada’s big game animals, including bears, when the implementation process is based on proven sound science and knowledge,” said group President Dennis R. Wilson.

Wilson said that a bear hunt won’t slow the growth of the bear population, and that while Nevada allows the hunting of a handful of bears, California has been hunting bears for years.

The group supports continuation of the Nevada black bear hunt with no restrictions other than existing ordinances relating to the discharge of firearms in congested areas. Current rules prevent hunters from taking bears in the Tahoe Basin.

The bill was introduced on Feb. 4 and referred to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, which took no action on it on March 7.

Native American groups protested at the capital in favor of the bill on Feb. 11. Nevada’s black bear hunt has been in effect for two years, with 25 bears taken during 2011 and 2012.

In September, the Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada presented a resolution opposing the bear hunt to Gov. Brian Sandoval. In addition to the resolutions, there were petitions signed by 800 members of the Great Basin tribes, including the Washoe, Northern and Southern Paiute and Shoshone.

Nevada Department of Wildlife Spokesman Chris Healy said hunters were told where native lands were located during their indoctrination and that no one has complained that anyone was trespassing.

According to previous reports, wildlife advocates at Lake Tahoe fear that even if SB 82 reaches Gov. Brian Sandoval’s desk, the governor will veto it. Ann Bryant, director of the California-based nonprofit BEAR League, said groups like it and the Humane Society of the United States were confident that California Gov. Jerry Brown would sign the 2012 bill that prohibited the use of hounds to hunt bears and bobcats. They were right — Brown signed SB 1221 into law last fall — but wildlife advocates are less assured of Sandoval’s support.

Kathryn Bricker, executive director of No Bear Hunt NV, said in a previous report that bear hunting in Nevada is not a viable way to manage the state’s animals. Stating that the black bear population can sustain sport hunting isn’t good science, she said.

Healy said he expects the third season to start in mid-September. He doesn’t expect the hunt rules to change much this year.

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