The California Department of Fish and Wildlife reports that hunters did not take the allotted number of black bear available in 2018. Of the 1,700 tags only 1,260 bears were reportedly culled.
The black bear population in California is large and strong. “The population is growing,” Peter Tira, information officer for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, told SierraSun.com. “Overall, bear populations are very healthy in California.”
One strong cause for the decline is that in 2012, California legislators banned the use of dogs for hunting bear. It’s not for lack of popularity — the state issues at least 1,000 bear tags a year. Not once in the six years since banning the use of dogs have hunters been able to reach the limit on bears taken.
“And a lot of those were taken, incidentally, when folks were out hunting deer,” added Tira. “A lot of the devoted bear hunters were also dog folks as well.”
Conservationists estimate that the state’s current black bear population sits somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000, up from an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 35 years ago.
Black bear was listed as a game animal in 1949 and they have been spotted in some places that they have not been seen before in the past five decades. They now range across the 52,000 square miles of the state.
The bear hunting season runs concurrently with deer season starting in early October and running through the end of the year. Archery season starts earlier in the year in August.
Hunters looking to take bear can purchase tags for $46 for residents and $299 for non-residents. Bear hunting licensing and regulations can be found at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website.
While bear hunting, in general, is losing popularity, it is an important part of wildlife management. In time the steadily growing black bear population could put stresses on their environment and affect other wildlife.