Welcome to Part II of many in a series to cover the movement to stop the proposed Washoe bear hunt is growing stronger.
NoBearHuntNv.org organizer Billy Howard is urging locals to attend the Washoe county Wildlife Department meeting on Thursday evening, January 27, at 6:30 p.m. at the wildlife office located at 1100 Valley Road, conference room B.
Howard is asking residents to put their concerns in writing. He is also inviting residents to organize on a facebook event which you can confirm attendance. It is also encouraged to bring as many concerned residents, neighbors, friends and family to the meeting to demonstrate the public opposition.
Below is a guest column by local Washoe county resident Kathryn Bricker.
The impetus for forming No Bear Hunt Nevada was to oppose the first ever Nevada bear hunt. We believe Tahoe bears should be treated kindly by those of us who share their habitat. The bears are already under stress from habitat encroachment …as we spread more and more into their native range. Easy food sources from mishandling trash have disrupted their natural behavior and created urban interface problems. Statistical data shows this problem is being slowly and successfully dealt with due to greater public awareness.
For the sportsmen who comprise the majority of the Nevada Department of Wildlife Commission to suggest that we should hunt bears in order to raise monies to teach people to handle trash properly is using the logic that “two wrongs make a right.” The blood of Tahoe bears should not be financing what is a human trash handling problem. Citizens can and are making improvements in this area. Our organization is contributing to non-lethal solutions.
The Commission clearly stated that the bear hunt would 1. have no impact on nuisance bears, as bears in the wild would be hunted, 2. not generate much money because of the limited number of tags to be sold, and 3. was not needed because we have too many bears and need to cull the species.
The Commission stated that they simply wanted to offer NV sportsmen this hunting opportunity and that the bear population was sufficient to justify it. Commissioner McBeath stated that they were approving the hunt “because we can.” The bear hunt will provide a sporting opportunity for approximately 45 hunters per year.
On the other hand, the public opposed the hunt to an overwhelming degree. Tallies of letters to the editors, 4,800 comments mailed to the NDOW, and public comments at the Commission meeting demonstrate the extreme degree to which the Commission ignored the public will in administering a public trust.
Nevada citizens opposed the hunt for many reasons. Most simply thought hunting the bears was a barbaric and cruel trophy sport. Others expressed concern for public safety because the hunt will occur primarily on the East Shore of Lake Tahoe, which houses the Tahoe Rim Trail, Flume Trail and has become an adventure sports destination. Some objected to the use of dog packs to chase and tree bears because of their known effect on non targeted wildlife.
Many objected to the impact on the bear population, as it is difficult to determine the sex of a bear, and the shooting of sows results in the orphaning of cubs, which are often up to 2 miles from the mother. Other Nevadans expressed concern that the hunt would negatively impact geotourism. Who wants to hike, bike or camp in an area where packs of dogs are chasing bears and men are shooting at them?
NoBearHuntNV.org is taking a proactive role in developing non-lethal solutions to bear management, as well as pursuing statutory changes to insure the public trust of Nevada Wildlife resides with the people of Nevada, and not a special interest group.