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September 20, 2012
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Letter to the editor: Urban bears are not who the hunters kill

A recent letter writer (Joanne King, Sept. 19 edition) closes her letter by asking "Why don't we let the licensed bear hunters in Nevada kill the nuisance trash bears instead of the innocent wild bears they now kill?"

The answer is simple: urban bears are not who the hunters kill. As demonstrated in the 2011 hunt, not a single bear taken had been tagged, which means they had never been a "nuisance" or urbanized. Every authoritive study on this subject predicted that - hunters hunt in the forest, not the streets of Stateline. Those same studies also found, with convincing evidence, that hunts actually do the reverse - they push woodland bears into urban areas and increase human-bear conflict. That's because bears are smart and they adapt quickly. Chase them with hounds in the forest and they'll move into the "safety" of neighborhoods.

The second part of the answer is this: Nevada has only 250 bears and not a single study has endorsed the idea that the population can support a hunt. Nevada's hunt allows 20 bears to be killed with no distinction on gender. Kill a nursing mother and you also kill both her cubs. So a take limit of 20 likely means that 30 to 40 bears will die. That's a huge hit on a population that, by the Department of Wildlife's own statements, has been stable for more than 100 years. When you combine that new kill rate with increased traffic fatalities due to increased traffic in the Basin, and DOW's three-strikes policy, which means more bears are killed (80 percent of those trapped in Incline Village in 2012 were killed by DOW), there's every reason to believe the experts when they say that the population is at risk of a collapse.

Mark Smith

Incline Village, Nev.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Sep 20, 2012 02:17PM Published Sep 20, 2012 01:53PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.