This week, California Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced Senate Bill 252, the Bear Protection Act. If enacted, this legislation would institute an outright ban on black bear hunting in California by repealing Section 302 and 303 of the California Fish and Game Code.
Senator Wiener did not mince words with his announcement in introducing this legislation – he is attempting to ban legal, regulated bear hunting in California. “It’s time we stop this inhumane practice once and for all.” Wiener’s official press release lists the Humane Society of the United States as an official sponsor and supporter of the legislation, and they won’t stop until all legal, regulated hunting is banned.
Wiener also falsely claims in his press release that recreational hunting of black bears in California has led to a decrease in population when in fact, Northeastern California has seen an increase in black bear abundance over the last 25 years. The statewide population is estimated to be well over 30,000 bears. This population growth has led to increased human-wildlife conflicts and public safety issues.
The Safari Club International Foundation, in collaboration with Humboldt State University, the Integral Ecology Research Center, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), helped shed light on bear demographics in northern California in a 2017 study, further proving that SCI and SCIF are truly first for hunters and first for wildlife.
CDFW relies on the sale of hunting licenses and tags each year for millions of dollars of funding that goes towards research and management of not only bears but other game and non-game species. Currently, the state allocates 1,700 bear tags to hunters for a fall/winter season, but rarely do hunters come close to filling all 1,700 tags. Since 2012, CDFW has increased the harvest quota for black bears by 13%. That number is based on the best available science and reflects the overall health and growth of the states bear populations.
This is a misguided attempt by the Humane Society and Senator Wiener to completely ignore science in order to ban legal, regulated hunting. One of the negative results will be decreased conservation funding statewide. Even more disturbing is the precedent this sets for willfully ignoring scientific management plans developed by state agencies in favor of the emotional whims of elected officials.
Safari Club is prepared to fight, but we need your help…
Make sure you sign up for our Hunter Advocacy Action Center to be the first to receive emails, action alerts, and updates about this legislation. We’ve got boots on the ground in California and we will be ready to defeat this bill and protect your freedom to hunt.