Skip to main content

Bear Hunting: Science vs. Emotion

Black bearSome of the most outspoken, aggressive opponents of hunting cannot be appeased. You can compromise till the cows come home, and it is a total waste of time and money. It would be nice to ignore such folks, but they use legal avenues to waste the time, talents, and funds of state and federal wildlife agencies. They will always do so.

Take bear management for example. Over the past 30 years, antihunters have challenged bear hunting from every conceivable angle. They never challenge deer or elk or antelope hunting at the state level. But they've eliminated bait and hound hunting for bears in several states and provinces, and every time a state attempts to initiate new bear seasons, this small minority screams long and loud and uses the court system to tie things in a knot. All this while average citizens suffer bear problems and the bears become habituated to suburban life. It's sad for the bears as well.

The antis' job was easier in states such as New Jersey, where former Governor Corzine was opposed to bear hunting and his wildlife biologist's recommendations. That helped invigorate this small minority at the expense of many citizens who had bear problems. Finally, with Corzine gone, a bear season went through. This past fall, New Jersey hunters harvested 13 percent of the estimated population, taking 469 black bears. The response from antis was predictable. They don't think the documented negative incidents people have with bears are accurate. They don't believe that lowering the black bear population is necessary. Like I said; you cannot appease them. They

will always have a reason to oppose black bear hunting in New Jersey, no matter what happens, no matter the dangers bears present, no matter what the science shows.


Black bears in parts of Nevada are growing at an annual rate of 16 percent. True, the population isn't large, with an estimated 300-400 bears that live for the most part in the Tahoe Basin area. The Wildlife Commission approved an August 2011 hunt that would allow the harvest of 20 bears, of which only six could be females. There was plenty of outcry but the Governor decided to support the hunt. Even so, various delays postponed the hunt until December 2011, and as I wrote this column their first bear season was under way.


Nevada typifies a growing trend where states initiate limited quota hunts as their small bear populations grow. Maryland, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma initiated bear seasons in the past 10 years, even though bear numbers were less than 1,000. For example, the first bear season in Kentucky began in 2009, and their December 2011 hunt only allowed 10 bears to be harvested. Oklahoma also initiated their first bear season in 2009, and this fall the two-day harvest was 31 bears. The approach these states took established a bear season that will continue as their bear population grows.

Emotional appeal and flawed claims are often given credence in the press and are even fueled by the lack of state government response. This does a disservice to citizens who are getting inaccurate information on nonlethal control methods. Our state wildlife agencies have the data to support the use of managed hunts to minimize human-bear conflicts, and that is why we see more and more states using lethal control. Those are the bear facts.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Tree Saddle Hunting Gear: Aider Options

Tree Saddle Hunting Gear: Aider Options

A climbing aider is a device that you use in conjunction with a stick that helps you gain more height per stick, but at the addition of very little weight to the stick setup. An aider can provide one or two more steps per each stick section, thereby greatly increasing height potential when needed and allowing you to carry fewer total sticks to gain a specific height.

Spot-and-Stalk Texas Hog Bowhunt

Spot-and-Stalk Texas Hog Bowhunt

Bowhunter Equipment Editor Tony J. Peterson spot-and-stalks hogs and whitetails in Texas.

Tree Saddle Hunting Gear: Sectional Tree-Climbing Sticks

Tree Saddle Hunting Gear: Sectional Tree-Climbing Sticks

Sectional sticks are the most popular tree-climbing method among saddle enthusiasts because sticks are safe, effective, easy to use, and you only have to hang three or four of them to reach heights of 17-22 feet if you add a lightweight climbing aider.

Turkey Decoy Beatdown

Turkey Decoy Beatdown

Bowhunter contributor Matt Palmquist witnesses a hen trying to destroy one of his decoys while hunting turkeys in Kansas.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Curt Wells and Randy Ulmer [video] explain the importance of momentum and penetration when choosing heavy vs. light arrows for bowhunting.How to Choose the Best Hunting Arrow - Heavy vs. Light How-To

How to Choose the Best Hunting Arrow - Heavy vs. Light

Curt Wells

Curt Wells and Randy Ulmer [video] explain the importance of momentum and penetration when...


What's a hardcore bowhunter? That's hard for me to define—most bowhunters I've met are10 Best Exercises for the Hardcore Bowhunter How-To

10 Best Exercises for the Hardcore Bowhunter

Dan Staton - June 30, 2016

What's a hardcore bowhunter? That's hard for me to define—most bowhunters I've met are

Take your hang-and-hunt to the next level with a Trophyline Tree Saddle. Look to Tree Saddle Hunting for Fall Success Treestands & Blinds

Look to Tree Saddle Hunting for Fall Success

Brian K. Strickland

Take your hang-and-hunt to the next level with a Trophyline Tree Saddle.

A simple, classic steak and French fries duo gets a wild makeover with this Elk Venison Steak-Frites Recipe.Elk Venison Steak-Frites Recipe Recipes

Elk Venison Steak-Frites Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

A simple, classic steak and French fries duo gets a wild makeover with this Elk Venison...

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

Dwight Schuh explains why it's okay to be serious about bowhunting - but not too serious!Hunting for the Fun of It Stories

Hunting for the Fun of It

Dwight Schuh

Dwight Schuh explains why it's okay to be serious about bowhunting - but not too serious!

I was sure I was going to have a great season this year. I was shooting well and scouting tripsTough Hunting Season? You're Not Alone. Stories

Tough Hunting Season? You're Not Alone.

Fred Eichler - February 20, 2018

I was sure I was going to have a great season this year. I was shooting well and scouting trips

On a cold day in December 2014, I had the pleasure of viewing an incredibly special whitetail deer.A DIY Quest for a 200-Class Whitetail Stories

A DIY Quest for a 200-Class Whitetail

Dayne Majeau - July 27, 2016

On a cold day in December 2014, I had the pleasure of viewing an incredibly special whitetail...

Emily Schuh Berriochoa details her father's final harvest.The Last Stand: Dwight Schuh's Final Buck Stories

The Last Stand: Dwight Schuh's Final Buck

Emily Schuh Berriochoa

Emily Schuh Berriochoa details her father's final harvest.

See More Stories

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Bowhunter App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Bowhunter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now