Opinion: Antis Seek Black Bear Hunting Ban

Missouri black bear hunting season under attack.

Opinion: Antis Seek Black Bear Hunting Ban

The Missouri black bear hunting season is under attack from highly organized anti-hunters. Photo: iStockphoto.com/rpbirdman

As predator hunters, we are constantly under attack from highly organized anti-hunters and their lackeys in the media and government. Looking back, it is easy to see how they operate, which also provides a road map for what to expect in the future.           

Antis have focused on wolves and grizzly bears — attempting to halt the hunting of both species forever. And when they are not trying to stop hunting for predators, the antis are pushing for the reintroduction of those species with a moratorium on hunting them.           

Antis use every tool in the box to get their way. When they can’t halt hunting administratively, they go public and attempt to force wildlife management via the ballot box. Lies and deceits are used to influence low information voters — those who don’t know the difference between sound science and manipulative misinformation. Witness the successful ballot measure in Colorado this past year where a wolf reintroduction was forced on wildlife managers who knew it was not a good idea, but now must implement it. Antis also have focused on shutting down black bear hunting. First it was New Jersey, then Louisiana and most recently Missouri. 

It is not often that predator hunting opportunities are expanded. That’s what makes the situation in Missouri quite interesting, because that state opened its first black bear hunting season this year. The reason the state was able to open a hunting season is that exhaustive research over several years indicated that there are enough bears in the state to justify a limited season without jeopardizing sustainable numbers of the species by doing so. Although the science demonstrated the viability of conducting a hunting season, anti-hunters squealed like stuck pigs. Their outright lies, partial “truths” and other mischaracterizations were predictable and materialized following the hunt. They whined before the hunt when the Missouri Department of Conservation was gathering input and following the hunt, they cried “foul!”           

The state did exhaustive research and developed a conservative quota for the total number of bears that could be taken during the season. That quota was 40, but 12 bears were taken. So, how did the anti-hunters react? The Humane Society of the United States argued that the number of bears bagged compared to the quota suggested that there aren’t as many bears in the state as the state said there were.           

One example of how the antis distort and mislead came from the Humane Society of the United States on its website: “The state also permitted trophy hunters to kill cubs who were unaccompanied by their mothers.” The MDC reported: “The harvest limit will be one bear per permit. Only lone black bears may be taken. Hunters may not take bears that are known to be in the presence of others bears, including female black bears with cubs.” Of course, the sleight of words used by the antis could lead one to believe that cubs were to be targeted. That wouldn’t be so egregious if it weren’t for the fact that, within that sleight of words, the antis contradicted themselves. The antis, as part of their attack on the MDC, stressed that the hunt was a “trophy” hunt. Cubs are not trophies. 

So, which is it? Is it a cub hunt or a trophy hunt? It couldn’t have a been a trophy hunt, as the antis suggest. In their own words describing trophy hunters, they wrote: “Trophy hunters seek to kill wildlife primarily for their heads, hides, claws or for bragging rights.” That would not have been legal for this bear hunt because the state required that successful hunters “may not leave or abandon commonly edible portions.” We’re talking meat hunting here, folks.           

Facts and science never have gotten in the way of the antis, whose emotional lies and deceits cannot stand up to the real facts. In the antis’ attack on the state in the first place, they suggested that the data used to establish the season was tainted. “One of the contentions we have made all along is that Missouri opted for a trophy hunt without even bothering to sponsor a proper count of bears,” HSUS stated. “The Missouri Department of Conservation’s black bear population research was partially funded by the Safari Club International Foundation, a sister organization of Safari Club International, the nation’s largest trophy hunting industry group, and its affiliate, the Hunter Legacy 100 Fund. This research is likely biased and was conducted for the purposes of justifying a trophy hunt. According to the Safari Club International Foundation’s website, these two groups have together contributed $82,000 for ‘research’ on the Missouri Black Bear Project since 2011.

With respect to the number of bears taken compared to the quota, the answer is simple. Since this was the first bear hunting season for the state, officials were very conservative in their calculations. “Our highly regulated and limited season included a sustainable maximum harvest of 40 bears, which is about 5 percent of our total bear population,” MDC furbearer and black bear biologist Laura Conlee said. “We also prohibited baiting and the use of dogs, limited hunting to 10 days and restricted the number of hunters who could participate. With any new season, it is difficult to predict hunter success, so we took a conservative approach to limiting the number of hunters and length of the hunting season. This was to ensure we didn’t overharvest the bear population in any one zone.”         

As can be seen in just this one instance, anti-hunters consistently twist words whenever possible to mislead the public. Predator hunters need to keep this in mind — if the antis say anything, look closely to find the lie because it most certainly is there somewhere. About the only part of the antis’ reaction to the Missouri black bear hunt that we can believe was the ending: “It’s a big fight, but it’s a good one, and we’ll stick with it for as long as it takes.” Antis do not give up easily and we can count on them to continue their efforts to stop all hunting. Nor should we hunters ever give up the fight. After all, we’re right.


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