Once Again, The Department of DUH
Few months ago, the state Fish and Game Commission announced they were taking testimony to see how everyone feels about hunting black bears in the County. There were a flurry of letters-to-the-editors encouraging folks to send in their public comment. Then, in today’s Tribune, the headline: “Questions doom bear hunt for 2009.” Writes David Sneed, “The department had recommended allowing bear hunting in the county for the first time. It also recommended eliminating a limit to the number of bears that can be taken statewide in a season.
“Both changes generated significant public opposition. . . . .” and then comes this howler: “The main criticism was that the state lacked the data necessary to justify a hunt.”
Turns out that “the department based its initial recommendation to allow a hunt on the number of nuisance complaints the agency received, the number of bears hit by cars and the use of baited scent stations. Bear numbers in San Luis Obispo County appear to be very similar to the numbers in Santa Barbara County, where the state already allows hunting, biologist said.”
The numbers “appear” to be similar? Are based on nuisance complaints? (Are the nuisance complaints worse in one particular area over another? If so, why open the entire county and/or state to unlimited hunting when a limited focus “culling” would likely take care of the “nuisance” problem?) Well, apparently on “appearance” and the basis of “nuisance,” the proposal was that not only would hunting commence, but there would be no limit to the number of bears you can kill.
Well, this sure didn’t make much sense to me. I mean, before you literally make it totally open season on bears (No Limit! Git Yer AK-47s! Kill ever’ damned bear inna county! Inna State! Call out the dawgs! Aw, heck with the dawgs, helicopter shoots, anyone?), shouldn’t you make sure bears really are a problem in the county? Like, people wake up in the middle of the night to find bears snuffling down the hallway. Trip over the damned things on the way to the bathroom? Open the kitchen cabinet and what falls out? Right, a doggone bear!
That way you’d at least know you’ve got a real state-wide or county-wide problem, not just a local, perhaps seasonal problem caused by inappropriate urban/rural interfaces, weather changes (drought, lack of food,), territory changes, the natural up and down of cycles of boom and bust population numbers, & etc. And if it’s simply a localized problem, apply a limited, local culling operation rather than a no-limit open season, all of which should be based on the best possible data, not merely “appearances.”
Well, for now, bears will shuffle around the county in peace and the Fish and Wildlife Commissioners will re-visit the issue next year. Maybe during that time, somebody will come up with some better data so before the guns start blazing folks will have a better idea of why they’re killing whatever it is they’re killing and have a pretty good handle on what the consequences of that kill-quota will have on all the other variables in a reasonably balanced ecosystem.
And maybe somebody will come up with an education program: What To Do When A Bear Falls Out Of Your Refrigerator At 3 a.m. and Other Tips For Living With Wildlife When You Build Your Dream Home In The “Country” And Then Get Shocked – SHOCKED – When The Damned Raccoons, Deer, Possums, Feral Cats, Your Neighbor’s Garbage Can Raiding Dog, Bobcats, Mountain Lions and Coyotes All Show Up To Eat Your Cat.