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Author Topic: Wildlife officials: Don't blame bear problems on lack of hunting  (Read 1504 times)

Offline Gutpiles

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Wildlife officials: Don't blame bear problems on lack of hunt


By Scott Condon
August 24, 2005

An increase in the number of encounters between black bears and humans in recent years in places like Aspen has got some observers contending the problem exists because a spring hunt was eliminated.

State wildlife officers claim that is nonsense. They say hunters are killing more bears now, when hunting is limited to fall, than they ever killed when hunting was allowed in both spring and fall.

Colorado voters eliminated the spring hunt in a 1992 election. The ballot issue championed by animal rights' advocates also banned the use of bait and dogs to hunt bears.

Bear problems have skyrocketed in some parts of the state in the last decade, particularly in years when bears' natural food supplies were wiped out by late frost or drought. Aspen is one of the state's hot spots, according to the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Kevin Wright, wildlife officer for the Aspen area, has responded to numerous calls of bears breaking into homes and property in recent years. But he strongly dismissed any connection between bear problems and elimination of the spring hunt.

"In my mind, I don't buy off on that," Wright said. "We are harvesting about twice as many bears now as we did with the spring bear hunt."

In 1992, hunters across Colorado killed 479 black bears during the spring and fall hunting seasons. In 1993, the first year the spring hunt was eliminated, only 278 bears were killed.

But hunters adapted to the limited hunting season for bears. From 1995 through 2004, the number of bears killed in the fall hunt was higher than it was in the years prior to the elimination of the spring hunt, according to wildlife division statistics.

The "harvest" over the last 15 years peaked at 857 bears in 2002. Last year, 506 bears bit the bullet.

John Broderich, a terrestrial biologist for the wildlife division, said the number of black bears has increased steadily since the 1970s. Before then, bears were routinely hunted without rules. Seasons were eventually established but bears could be baited, even though other big game couldn't.

Animal rights advocates collected enough signatures to place a question on the statewide ballot in 1992 to change some of the hunting rules for bears. The Division of Wildlife was officially neutral on the question.

Bear populations in Colorado are definitely on the rise, but the bear kills during the fall hunt, which starts in September this year, have kept pace, Broderich said.

"Those bears are dying in record numbers since the spring season was closed," he said.

Some proponents of a spring hunt contend the number of bears killed isn't as important as the timing of when they are killed.

Sub-adult males are often the bears killed in hunts. Once their mothers stop caring for them it takes time for them to learn to care for themselves and establish their territory.

Those young males are also believed to be the bears most often involved with conflicts with humans. They are desperate for food, so they seek the easiest source possible. That's often in the house of a person who left windows open or a door unlocked.

Critics of current rules claim that if the spring hunt was in place, it would eliminate some of those sub-adult males that tend to have conflicts with humans later in the summer.

Wright said he consistently hears that argument. He countered that the fall hunt also tends to eliminate the sub-adult males, so they aren't around to get in trouble the following summer. A dead bear is a dead bear, he said.

Wright contended that the reason for increased conflicts is increased development of prime bear habitat. As the valley grows, much of the development occurs in areas where bears reaped natural foods like acorns and service berries.

With fewer food sources, bears go for easy pickings in town and around homes in rural areas, particularly in years when natural factors like a late frost or drought affect acorns and berries.

"We've placed ourselves in direct conflict," Wright said.

Scott Condon's e-mail address is

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Offline MARLIN

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Re: Wildlife officials: Don't blame bear problems on lack of hunting
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2005, 04:09:20 PM »
As I read I do not understand their thinking, they show some numbers, but do they think I am actully that stupid. They're showing numbers of spring hunts, or of fall hunts, but in different years, and never together. Let's do some math here hunter numbers are declining every year, bear sightings are higher every year, you took away spring hunting, took away baiting, and hounds, numbers being shown are not combine yearly kills(only showing one season or the other). But you want the public to believe that bear kills are up(combine), ya I would have to agree that fall hunts are greater numbers, but less hunters = less pressure = bolder bears = higher sightings = easir to kill bears. Sorry don't beleive his statement, where did he go to school< really should check to see if he passed is math classes.       Only one phrase really comes to mind when someone says warden(besides silver target on chest), Animal actvist winning their fight to stop our right to hunt any animal, and I would have to say with his statement  the phrase seems to be correct. >:(
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Offline John Andrews

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Re: Wildlife officials: Don't blame bear problems on lack of hunting
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2005, 09:56:46 AM »
This is a great thread, and what Marlin says makes some good points. Kevin Wright is missing some facts, for sure.  With more bears, their individual territory shrinks. The smaller bear has less food to eat because he is forced into a lesser food plot and risks death if he invades a larger bear's chow hall. A dry year has to be figured into the equasion, too. Bears are forced into raiding human food sources when the berry crop is poor. I have hunted during poor berry crop years and killed one really troublesome bear, an old cinnamon boar that had the habit of running all humans out of his personal berry patch. Simple math says more bear, more problems. People like Wright fail to look at a problem and then look to a simple solution. He is certainly bowing to pressure he doesn't need to. That seems to be the norm with many sheeple that make decisions for us nowdays. Look at Kalifornia, the state with the couger lovers with the humans and pets being served up on the cougers' dinner plates. Cats and bears gotta eat, too.
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