California’s ban on hunting bears with dogs has apparently drawn immediate results. Accordingly to preliminary information, the 2013 season resulted in the lowest number of bears harvested in nearly two decades.

Hunting larger game with hounds is sometimes a contentious issue, even among sportsmen. Critics of the practice say that hunting with hounds is unsportsmanlike, dangerous for the canines involved, and too easy. Bears are large and powerful creatures, and although they will often flee after encountering a dog, on rare occasions bears can cause grievous harm to hounds.

Hunters who use dogs, however, say there are many benefits that are often overlooked. In their opinion, hunting with hounds frequently leads to more accurate shots and less wounding hits, as well as the effective tracking and identification of game animals. The Los Angeles Times reported in a 2012 article that nearly 45 percent of bears taken in California were harvested by houndsmen. That statistic provides some insight on the low number of bears harvested in 2013, nearly half of what hunters accounted for in the previous year.

According to The Sacramento Bee, California hunters took 1,002 bears last year compared to 1,962 bears in 2012. There is very little doubt among wildlife officials and hunters that the 48 percent decrease was caused by the ban. Regardless of their opinions on hunting with hounds, many sportsmen are concerned by the year’s low harvest rate.

“You’re going to start having property damage, people killed,” California Houndsmen for Conservation (CHC) president Lori Jacobs told the Bee. “The black bear population in California is already out of control.”

The CHC claims that the use of hounds is one of the most successful forms of bear hunting and is an important tool in controlling the bear population. Many houndsmen believe that the ban is an effort by animal rights activists to restrict hunting opportunities.

“The use of hounds is the oldest, most fundamental, and most natural form of hunting,” CHC states on its website. “Its essence is the interaction between the houndsman, the dog, and the animal they are pursuing.”

The law banning the use of hounds was passed in 2012, but first took effect in 2013.

Image from Alan Vernon on the Wikimedia Commons

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4 thoughts on “California’s Bear Harvest Drops Significantly Following Hound Ban

  1. Hunting Bears with Hounds needs to be Reinstated or the Control of the Bear population will be left up to Government Hunters which costs the tax payers in the end… Government Hunters are busy enough with Skunks and Mountain Lions…Mountain Lion control costs the tax payer also and should be put back on Hunters to help out….

    1. Agreed! Glad to see another level headed person. As for people that call it easy, let me see them come help me pack a 400 lb bear from the middle of a deep canyon.

  2. I’m sorry but this ban has to be lifted. What is wrong with using hounds to hunt with? Duck hunters use dogs to retrieve their ducks or geese in marshy waters. What’s wrong with using hounds to hunt bears? It’s more accurate in hunting the bears, tracking, and shooting. I know the bear population has exploded because of this. Bears are now roaming into neighborhoods sifting through trash eating more fattening food which results in twin or triplet cubs. Which in turn increases the population more and now it’s a vicious cycle. Then we don’t have enough government employees to cover all the problems. Taxpayers are going to have to cover the costs, insurance companies are going to cover the damages, it’s just one big expensive circle all for what? Because ignorant people don’t like using hounds to hunt. Idiots.

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