Groups are urging Gov. John Kitzhaber and the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to reject the “Siskiyou Plus” proposal to expand springtime black bear hunting in southwest Oregon, during a time in which mother bears are nursing dependent cubs. The Humane Society of the United States, along with a coalition of local and national conservation groups, sent letters in advance of the commission vote.
Orphaning will increase
Scott Beckstead, Oregon senior state director for The Humane Society of the United States, said: “If this dangerous proposal passes, the chances of orphaning bear cubs in Oregon will greatly increase. Mother bears regularly forage at great distances from their cubs, which may cause hunters to mistakenly believe they’ve shot a lone female, dooming the cubs.”
In Oregon, it is unlawful to kill cubs less than one-year-old or mother bears with cubs less than one-year-old. However, by increasing the number of tags offered during the spring nursing season, the likelihood of accidentally taking mother black bears is also increased. Since cubs are dependent on their mothers for survival for 16 to 17 months, orphaned cubs will likely die from starvation, exposure to the elements or predation.
New area for hunting
The Siskiyou Plus bear hunt seeks to open up a new geographic area in southwestern Oregon to spring bear hunting, and will offer more than 200 additional bear-hunting tags.
Sally Mackler, Oregon carnivore representative for Predator Defense, said: “It is disingenuous to hold spring bear hunts and at the same time prohibit killing cubs less than a year old. Spring bear hunts inevitably result in the killing of mother bears and their cubs being subjected to prolonged and painful deaths.”
Nick Cady, legal director of Cascadia Wildlands said: “Expanding the spring bear hunt and putting mother bears with young cubs at risk is simply nonsensical. Orphaning more bear cubs in the state will lead to higher levels of human/bear conflict and result in an increased cost to taxpayers.”
Voters demand protection
Oregon voters have twice favored providing strong protection for bears in statewide ballot contests. Liberalizing spring bear hunting would be at odds with voter sentiment in the state.
The coalition, including Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity, The Humane Society of the United States, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Oregon Wild, Predator Defense and Soda Mountain Wilderness Council, is calling upon the governor and ODFW to stop the expansion of the springtime hunt.