California Game Wardens Respond to Spree of Bear Poaching

Game Wardens in Northern California made an announcement this week in the wake of a series of unlawful bear killings in the Three Rivers Park not far from Sacramento. While the number of deaths was not mentioned, at least 5 different properties have played host to the killing of bears, signaling a widespread violation of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) policy in regards to dealing with bears. The announcement was an attempt to clarify the department’s policy and to educate the populace on the habits of bears in the wild.

Bear killing is not illegal, and farmers are allowed to kill bears in the defense of their property or livestock. All that is required is for a farmer or rancher to report the killing to the CDFW so that they are able to keep proper tabs on the state’s bear population.

If bears prove to be a particular nuisance, a depredation permit can be obtained allowing the farmer or rancher to kill bears if all other efforts made to force them to move on have failed. Only adult male bears can be killed with this permit or with a standard license. The standard hunting license allows a hunter to take one male bear per season. The killing must still be reported and a skull presented to the CDFW within 10 days.

However, none of the dead bears discovered by game wardens were reported to the CDFW, a crime punishable by a $1,000 – $2,500 fine per bear. This clear violation of CDFW policy led to the rule clarification and was accompanied by a notice about bear behavior in the hopes that a better understanding of how and why bears enter human property will help to end the killings.

It remains to be seen whether the announcement will make an impact on the killings, but if they continue, CDFW wardens may have to take more drastic measures to bring the rash of deaths to an end.