Elk NetworkEffort Thwarted to Ban California Bear Hunting

General | April 29, 2022

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, its members and other sportsmen and conservation groups successfully defeated an effort to stop black bear hunting in California.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), well-known for its anti-hunting agenda, sought to end bear hunting despite abundant scientific data that shows California black bear populations are robust. RMEF submitted a petition with the signatures of 900 of its California members and also provided testimony opposing the HSUS effort.

“The best available data shows that California’s bear populations are at historically high levels,” the RMEF petition stated. “(HSUS) Petition 2021-027 attempts to assert that our black bear populations are at risk of extirpation from climate change, wildfires and drought, and that no additional hunter harvest should be allowed. The petitioners make numerous unsubstantiated claims and misrepresent population data. Their claims are contradicted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in its ‘Black Bear Take Report of 2020.’”

HSUS also claimed black bear hunting as unpopular among California residents based on a poll with carefully engineered questions designed to result in their chosen outcome. A more tangible measure is how the Senate sponsor of SB 252, which would have banned bear hunting statewide, withdrew the legislation due to sweeping public outcry. Participation in all hunting increased across the nation since the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonresident bear tag sales in California increased by 36.6 percent from 2019 sales and resident bear tag sales increased by 9.4 percent.

Additionally, bear hunting is now more popular because TV shows such as “MeatEater,” featuring RMEF life member Steven Rinella, offered education about how good bear meat is to eat, offered many delicious recipes for bear meat and touted the benefits of rendering bear fat. An HSUS claim that bear hunting is just for a trophy is also unsubstantiated, as California law requires all hunters to bring out all meat from a harvested bear.

(Photo credit:  California Department of Fish and Wildlife)