Among the more desperate actions taken by anti-hunting groups lately is the petition, filed by Big Wildlife and NoBearHuntNV, to grant black bears in Nevada federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Nevada opened its first bear season in August of this year. No more than 20 bears (a maximum of six females) may be taken during the season, which ends in December, unless the six-female quota is reached earlier. At that point, the hunt will end regardless of the total number of bears taken. (Three females and five males have been taken thus far.) The wildlife commission's vote to hold the hunt was 7-1, and the only dissenter felt the quota was too low.
Between 300 and 400 bears inhabit the state, mostly in the Carson Range near Lake Tahoe, and some in the Pine Nut, Wassuk and Sweetwater mountains. The bear population is growing at about 16 percent annually.
Nearly 1,300 people applied for the 45 tags the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) made available, which generated $4,500 for the state's wildlife conservation work. Revenue for conservation that comes from hunters is invariably a fact anti-hunters don't mention.
NoBearHuntNV first tried a lawsuit to stop the hunt, holding the commission gave insufficient notice of a public hearing and that property values near the hunt area could be adversely affected, among other alleged failings. A state judge rejected the suit.
On September 24th, the wildlife commission voted unanimously to make the bear season permanent. This will give the NDOW the freedom to review the bear season each year and adjust the harvest quota as needed. "It could go up or it could go down," said NDOW's Chris Healy.
So, having lost the lawsuit, and having science working against them, Big Wildlife and NoBearHuntNV filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to have the bears in the area classified as a distinct population under the Endangered Species Act.
It's not up to us, but we just don't think it will happen," said Healy. "When we show our 15 years of data, I think it will prove this population goes across the California-Nevada border. A dotted line on a map doesn't make a distinct population."
So, while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service struggles to review yet another spurious petition based on emotion rather than science, the two petitioners continue to put out ridiculous statements like this one, where Big Wildlife seeks to malign sportsmen who speak up for their hunting rights:
"Also likely fuelling the issue is pressure from hunters eager for the thrill of the 'sport' as well as lucrative opportunities to sell bear products such as gall bladder bile and paws on the Black Market. For this reason, hunters and poachers desperately grasp for reasons to convince the State that culling the bear population is necessary."
Absurd as this statement is, it is not exactly new for anti-hunters to label all hunters as criminals.
The fact that it's totally untrue doesn't matter to them. Nor does it matter their claim that black bears in Nevada need Federal protection is baseless. They know it is. All they are trying to do is demonize hunters. It is their basic fundraising tactic.
Let's hope those reviewing this petition see these two groups for what they are: radical anti-hunters with no regard for the truth, or for the science of wildlife management.