NV BHA has been working hard to defend the hunting of bears in the state and to fight legislation which would prohibit the hunting of all bears in the state. BHA supports wildlife management that is based on science, not emotion. The following letter was submitted by NV BHA in opposition to SB 82, which would put an end to all bear hunting in Nevada.
To the NV State Senate Natural Resources Committee:
Senators Ford, Manendo, Segerblom, Settelmeyer and Goicoechea
Re: SB 82
From: Karen Boeger, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
6205 Franktown Rd., Washoe Valley, NV 89704
March 8, 2013
Thank you for a well run committee meeting yesterday, despite the huge crowd and emotional issue.
I also commend you for so obviously having done your homework. Your questions were very pertinent and of import to determine a wise conclusion regarding this bill.
Some additional thoughts have come to my mind since listening to the lengthy testimonies of both sides of this issue, in addition to the helpful information related by NDOW. They are as follows:
Management by hunting: I recognize that a take of 11 bears last year cannot yet be labelled an effective “management tool”. That said, the funds generated by hunters who applied for a tag are essential to help fund the more expensive and frequently used management tool of live trapping.
Nothing in this bill addresses how management will be funded if the extra funds that tag applications provide are eliminated.
Area of bear hunts: concerns were raised that the area of high density bear population is the very areawhere bear hunting is not allowed (the NV side of Tahoe Basin), thus bear hunts could not help with problem bears. However, that same density of bear population in the Tahoe area has increasingly driven some bears to seek new habitat in more rural areas such as the Pinenuts, Wassuks, Virginia Range and the Sweetwaters. These are far less productive habitats for bears than Tahoe, thus can support far fewer bears. Over time, the bear populations in these areas are bound to reach unhealthy levels. Hunting will then indeed become a useful management tool.
Tradition: your useful questioning made clear that Native American concerns about both trespass and safety could be reasonably addressed by working together with NDOW for solutions. Though some tribal members clearly revere the bear and do not hunt them, to eliminate the opportunity of a bear hunt, when deemed feasible by NDOW, in my opinion, would be an unjust takings of a legitimate tradition for other people.
Ethics: I understand how offensive it can be to many people to take the life of a bear and granted there are hunters who approach hunting in a less than respectful manner. The majority of traditional hunters have a huge respect, knowledge and even spiritual feelings about the animals they hunt while utilizing fair chase ethics. Their opportunities should not be eliminated because of the objectionable actions of a few. For example, I am very offended by the people who recreate irresponsibly on ORVs, yet I wouldn't propose to eliminate ORV use in an ethical, legitimate manner because of those few.
Hounds: again, I understand how use of hounds in hunting can seem offensive to those who do not understand why they are used. By treeing a bear, the hounds allow the hunter to be able to determine the sex of the bear. This is far healthier than a hunter without hounds taking a shot based on a guess as
to the sex. Personally, I do not like this custom, but I would never agree that it should be banned because of an assumption of cruelty or unfair hunting practice.
Intent: I would ask what is the true intent of this bill? Is it the health of the bear population or to ban one entire category of hunting because it offends some people? Hunting to date clearly has not negatively affected the bear population. As I stated in my oral testimony yesterday, if we bear advocates, hunter and non-hunter alike, wish to maintain a healthy bear population, we must focus on 2 things:
1.Conserve and restore bear habitat and the connectivity corridors between those areas. This will provide large enough area so competition is not an issue, ensure genetic diversity and reduce the high numbers of bears currently killed by motor traffic.
2.Devise a system for the general population to contribute our fair share of funds toward wildlife management. Nevada's wildlife belongs to us all and has economic, recreational and emotional value. It is wrong to continue to expect only sportsman's dollars to protect that precious resource for the benefit of us all.
In summary, I urge you to either let this bill die or fix it so that it truly becomes a bill about helping the bears, not an anti-hunting bill.
Thank you for your continued consideration of my ideas and concerns,
To the Nevada State Senate Natural Resources Committee:
Senators Ford, Manendo, Seherblom, Settlemeyer, Parks and Goicoechea
Re: SB82, anti-bear hunt bill
From: Karen Boeger, Board member, NV Chapter, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers 6205 Franktown Rd., Washoe Valley, NV 89704
March 5, 2013
I am writing to register my opposition to SB82, the anti-bear hunt bill. In my opinion, this is an ill-conceived bill for numerous reasons.
Most importantly, existing statutes rightfully require decisions related to Nevada's wildlife be made by the Dept. of Wildlife and the Wildlife Commission, and that those decisions must be based on the latest, best peer-reviewed science.
Bears populations are healthy in Nevada and have no predators to manage their numbers. Hunting is an important management tool to keep populations to a level at which the habitat can support healthy bears. Bear hunting has been understandably banned from the Tahoe Basin due to the density of human population. This leaves expensive live trapping as the sole tool in an area of abundant bears. It is critical (and economically sensible) to retain hunting as a management tool in all other bear habitat.
Not widely known to the general public is the fact that sportsmen's dollars alone support management of bears, whether by hunting or by NDOW's removal of problem bears. This bill gives no stipulation of how to pay for future management of bears, if hunting is eliminated as a tool. Every Nevadan benefits from and appreciates our wildlife, we should devise a way to help pay for management of that resource.
I live at Washoe Pines Ranch on the west side of Washoe Valley at the base of the Sierras. We have taken every precaution to discourage bears: a bear-proof dumpster for garbage, no bird feeders, no compost, no pet food outside, we even freeze any meat or fish scraps until trash collection day. Yet from spring through late fall we are visited nearly daily by bears, mostly mothers and cubs. We have had to call Mr. Lackey, from NDOW, several times each summer to come out and trap particular problem bears. Most of our neighbors along this road have done the same. Yet I believe that most people assume their own taxes pay for these important services. I'm sure most would be surprised to learn sportsmen pay for this service to the general public.
Do not get me wrong, bears are what I might even term my “totem” animal, appearing in my life at key times. I respect them, feel awed when I see them and privileged to live among them. I confess that I personally could not kill a bear, but fully comprehend the absolute necessity to retain hunting as a management tool.
I urge you to oppose this bill. The NV Dept. of Wildlife and the Wildlife Commissioners are the appropriate entities to make decisions such as this, not the legislature. Wildlife decisions must be made based on science, not on emotion, no matter how “noble” the perceived intent.
Thank you for your consideration of my concerns,