With the removal of hunting with the use of dogs in California this season, the expected result has been that the number of bear taken by hunters has reduced. This is of course not what the Department of Fish & Wildlife would have hoped for, but is the result of two major factors.
First, the only bear taken will of course be the result of deer hunters buying a bear tag in the hope that an opportunity to take a bear crosses their path. Only approximately 14% of deer hunters actually take a deer each year, and in some zones it is as low as 5-6%, and the percentage of deer hunters that buy a bear tag is relatively low, surpassed only by the few deer hunters that actually take a bear each year.
The second major factor to the reduced number is the fact that many of the hunters who previously used dogs to help them take a bear, have not bought a bear tag this year, and have gone out of state to utilize their dogs.
Since the bear season has now ended (Dec 31) the Department of Fish & Wildlife now face a dilemma, in-so-much as they have few options open to them to reduce the number of bear in California.
What might these options be?
Well extending the bear season may be an easy to implement possibility, as would allowing those hunters that are successful in bagging a bear an opportunity to purchase a second tag. The final option is to reduce the cost of bear tags to encourage more hunters to buy a tag, and hope that greater quantities of tag sales makes up for the revenue lost.
Undoubtedly, the result of the non-use of dogs and reduced number of bear taken each year will result in the following:
Revenue drop for the Department of Fish & Wildlife, with resulting loss of quality wildlife management assessment and protection. The DF&W wardens are the lowest paid law enforcement officers in the state, and lose highly qualified officers to other law enforcement agencies, and reduction in numbers equals loss of protection of the wildlife, loss of revenue can also hit the DF&W biologists, which a reduction in number would equal lower quality wildlife assessment, less accurate tag quotas, etc.
More confrontations between humans and bears in campgrounds and in the more rural towns and villages.
More depredation permit requests.
More automotive accidents involving bears.
More physical damage caused by bears, not only to vehicles, property but also human life.
Watch for more trouble on the horizon!