(LAS VEGAS, KXNT)–Nevada wildlife officials say 14 black bears have been killed during the hunting season that began in mid-September and will end December 31st, unless the quota of 20 bears have been killed by that time.
But the hunt itself remains controversial, with various groups saying they are unnecessary and harmful.
This is the third year of the bear hunt, as authorized by the 2011 state legislature. The hunts will be reviewed by Department of Wildlife officials at the end of the season to determine if they continue.
Opponents say they are preparing to stop future bear hunts, beginning with the next legislative session, which will not occur until 2015.
The state says 6 of the 14 bears killed so far were west of Highway 395 in northern Nevada. Resident complaints in the Lake Tahoe Basin and along popular hiking trails on Mount Rose Summit put those areas off limits to this year’s hunt The state says 10 of the 14 bears killed so far are males, the largest weighing 500 pounds. Five bears have been killed in the Pine Nut Mountains.
The hunts began after experts told state officials there was an adequate bear population to sustain a hunt. But Kathryn Bricker of the group No Bear Hunt Nevada says the organization has hired outside biologists who “do not feel that we have an adequate population or have proven so, that we can safely hunt in a sustainable way. So there is conflicting expert opinion”, she says.
She says there is no ecological justification for the hunts, she added. “Bears are an umbrella species. Each bear you take out of the population creates social disruption. It affects not only the bear population but the entire ecosystem in a negative way.”
She cited polls indicating most Nevadans do not favor bear hunts.
And she says a number of game hunters have also voiced opposition, but their voices have faded under pressure.
“The organized hunting groups developed a slippery slope argument, where if we give any ground on this they’re going to want to take more, and this has to do with the larger picture of hunting rights. We don’t see it that way, but they have been successful in intimidating those who earlier spoke out to not do so anymore.”