Opponents of Nevada black bear hunt file lawsuit | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Opponents of Nevada black bear hunt file lawsuit

Tribune file photoAfter opening an unlocked lid to a Dumpster a young bear pulls out a trash bag looking for food.

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. – A group dedicated to preventing Nevada’s first legal bear hunt has filed a lawsuit challenging the process the state wildlife commission undertook to adopt it earlier this year.

The group – NoBearHuntNV.org – filed the suit in Carson City District Court on Tuesday. It requests an injunction that would prevent the hunt from beginning at its currently scheduled date of Aug. 20, 2011.

“The public is solidly behind us,” said Christine Schwamberger, an attorney representing the NoBearHuntNV.org, in a Wednesday interview. “Many Nevada hunters also agree this hunt should not take place.”

The legal contention hinges on two claims:

1. The public notice regarding the meeting of the Dec. 4, 2010, Nevada Wildlife Commission, where the board voted unanimously to approve the hunt, was inadequate.

“This is not just a technicality,” Schwamberger said. “Violating the Nevada Administrative Procedure Act is a big deal.”

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2. The regulation establishing the bear hunt is included in Gov. Brian Sandoval’s Executive Order freezing all administrative regulations.

“The Executive Order provides that all proposed administrative regulations shall be frozen until Jan. 1, 2011,” Schwamberger said in a press release issued Wednesday. “While the bear hunt regulation was passed on December 4, 2010, the process by which it becomes effective had not yet been completed before the Executive Order went into effect. As a result, NoBearHuntNV.org’s position is that the bear hunt regulation was frozen and ineffective, and therefore, the 2011 bear hunt adopted in February is illegal.”

Despite vocal opposition from conservationists – NoBearHuntNV.org included – wildlife commissioners approved the hunt after biologists assured them the state’s bear population can support a limited hunt.

Biologists estimate there are 200 to 300 adult black bears in the Carson Range around Lake Tahoe, with additional bears in ranges to the south. They say Nevada’s bear population is believed to be growing at a rate of about 16 percent annually.

Commission Chairman Scott Raine said in a previous interview the hunt is “clearly justified on the biological end of it” and described opponents as a “vocal minority” opposed to hunting in general.

Phone calls to the Nevada Attorney General’s office, which represents the wildlife commission, were not immediately returned.