In yet another resounding illustration of big-city politicians having no clue about rural impacts, state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco several weeks ago proposed banning the hunting of black bears across California. The bill was immediately withdrawn amid strong and widespread opposition. 

In pulling it, Wiener noted he had higher priority issues that needed his attention this year, which is political code for “I got my ass handed to me on this one.”

Senate Bill 252 was introduced on Jan. 26, intended, according to Wiener, to protect black bears in California from diminishing habitat due to wildfires and other threats, though we’re not certain there’s significant bear habitat left at all in San Francisco (maybe the East Bay). Throughout much of California, though, the black bear population is reportedly flourishing.

The bill would have reclassified black bears as non-game mammals and eliminated the bear tag program at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which currently allows for no more than 1,700 bear kills annually. An outright ban makes little sense; we feel the better solution is to allow CDFW to continue to assess the health of the black bear population and adjust the tag program accordingly.

To his credit, Wiener’s bill would have allowed the ability for landowners to kill a black bear in the event of an immediate threat to their safety or that of livestock. The bill also allowed for obtaining depredation permits in the event of overpopulation by black bears in a specified area. But for many the annual hunt is not just sport, it is food in the freezer. Big-city politicians don’t seem to get that.

We’re happy to see Wiener’s concern over California’s wildfire and forest management problems and urge him to redirect his attention to those areas, improving both our forests and bear habitat at the same time.

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