Opinion: Bear hunting plan a grisly affair

Anthony Prieto

April 1, 2010 6:57 AM
In response to Julia Di Sieno’s recent guest commentary, “Too hard to bear,” and after reading some of the follow-up responses, I felt I had to speak up as well.
I’ve hunted in Santa Barbara’s back country for almost 25 years. I hunt wild pigs and black-tail deer only. I only shoot what I’m going to feed my family.
I’ve seen a depletion of wildlife and loss of habitat as well in this relatively short time. In reading Ms. Di Sieno’s take, I fully endorse and agree with her strong feelings re: the Department of Fish and Game’s proposed stance on increasing the allowed tags (800 more) for black bears during the designated bear season. On top of that, adding hounds with GPS units.
Over the past 250 years, in what is now called California, we have lost the grizzly bear, gray wolf, American jaguar and probably now, the wolverine. Going to Montana annually, I’ve seen the hate and resentment toward grizzlies, wolves and mountain lions there. All to save a cow or sheep, for which the government will compensate if, in fact, there is a loss of livestock.
It amazes me to see the ignorance and audacity of people, especially when these predators have been there thousands of years before any of those people were ever even in that region. Why is it, in our society, we seem to feel we have to wipe out and kill the top predators of these regions?
Black bears, though plentiful in both areas, are hunted. Black bears are also a major piece in this ecosystem. To increase the quota of bear tags up another 800, and to allow the use of hounds with GPS is crazy. Especially regarding sows (female bears) with cubs.
I understand that we as hunters think we are conservationists and, to keep certain populations down, there are designated seasons for certain species. To say that there’s now an over-abundance of black bears in California is like saying there is no global warming. If anything, there are too many people encroaching on their habitat.
If that’s the case, let it be archery-only to level the playing field. No rifles, no handguns, no hounds with GPS units. We as hunters already have such a huge advantage with the high-powered rifles we use.
The indigenous people of what is now California revered both black and grizzly bears alike. The bear was a sacred animal, a spiritual brother of the wild. What a sad, sorry sight this society has become when we continually try to justify killing more predators as people continually encroach and build homes and ranches deeper and deeper into their habitat.
Anthony Prieto lives in Santa Barbara.

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