Bear hunting in California is not a popular sport. A fraction of 1% of Californians hunts bears in the state. But it is highly regulated by the state's Department of Fish and Game. The season runs roughly from October through December. Hunters must obtain an identification tag, make only one kill, and turn in the tag with information on where the bear was taken, along with the bear's skull so that state authorities can determine the gender and age to monitor the population. (The skulls are returned.) Cubs as well as female bears with their young are off-limits to hunters. No more than 1,700 bears may be killed each season, and if the state reaches that quota early, the season is closed.
Now the state wants to raise the quota to 2,000. The state's Fish and Game Commission, which approves policies that the department carries out, is scheduled to vote on the issue next week. This is the third year in a row the department has proposed expanding bear hunting in some way. The two previous proposals triggered vociferous opposition from animal welfare and environmental groups, and various politicians — and were ultimately withdrawn by the department. This year, the Humane Society of the United States has opposed the increase, and 21 California legislators have sent a letter to the commissioners urging them to reject the proposal.