Wildlife advocates have called on the Nevada Department of Wildlife to shut down the state’s bear hunt in units affected by or adjacent to the recent catastrophic wildfires that have wreaked havoc on Sierra Nevada communities. Sadly, there are only an estimated 300-400 black bearsremaining in Nevada.
Nevada’s annual bear hunt, which features packs of GPS-collared hounds chasing bears up trees, is scheduled to begin on September 15th. Eight of the 10 hunt units where bear hunting is permitted are in areas that have burned or are still burning or are immediately adjacent to those areas.
“The Tamarack Fire and the Caldor Fire have both profoundly affected the ecology and wildlife of the central Sierra Nevada. The Tamarack Fire is 82% contained, having burned 68,637 acres in California and Nevada. The Caldor Fire is still burning out of control, having burned approximately 215,000 acres with 28% containment as of September 4th,” notes a letter that was sent to the department earlier this week. “The two perimeters of these massive conflagrations are less than eight miles apart. They form a nearly contiguous belt of burned terrain almost all the way across the Sierra Nevada.”
Bears are territorial animals. Forced migration due to wildfires can throw social dynamics into disarray, potentially causing cascading ecological effects in areas far from the fire’s border. Research has also found that wildfires can affect bear demographics, and in many cases, can lead to near-zero survival for cubs.
“We need to give our bears a break,” said Patrick Donnelly, Nevada State Director at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. “Climate-fueled catastrophic fire is not just hard on us, it is also hard on wildlife. Bears are struggling to survive and recover from the most difficult summer of their lives, and now they are going to be chased by dogs and shot to death. It is unacceptable.”
Wildfire smoke has affected life dramatically in northern Nevada in recent months. Unlike humans who have air conditioning and air filters and can drive away, bears and other wildlife are forced to suffer the effects of climate change and fire directly.
“Now, is not the time to add additional harassment to what they have already suffered,” stated Don Molde of the Nevada Wildlife Alliance.
In addition to huge wildfires, Nevada’s bears face other dire threats due to climate change. Record heat and drought place wildlife under significant stress and can cause mortality and reproductive failure.
To help stop the Nevada bear hunt next week, please contact the officials below: