Bear hunting is one of those things that divides the population, some people are for it, and some people are against it. However, statistics and conservationists tell us we need it, at least to some degree.
Why Do People Hunt Bears?
People hunt bears for many different reasons, but three reasons account for over 95% of bear hunting. People hunt bears for meat, conservation, and trophies. These three reasons aren’t mutually exclusive of each other; rather, the hunters’ main focus is one of these, and the other is just a benefit.
The number one reason people hunt bears is the same as for most animals across North America; the hunter is after their meat for food.
This is true for both black bears and brown bears. However, black bears are targeted more for meat.
The second biggest reason bears are hunted is for conservation practices. Many people don’t realize that bears can cause a huge amount of damage to the ungulate population in North America.
Hungry bears will quickly snatch a deer fawn, or moose, caribou, or elk calf; this is especially through in early spring as hungry bears rise from their dens and calves and fawns are just born.
One of the biggest reasons people hunt bears is for trophies. This doesn’t mean that the sole purpose for going out and hunting a bear is for a trophy and nothing else.
Trophy hunting for bears goes hand in hand with hunting bears for meat. Brown bears make up the majority of bears for trophy hunting, although people still hunt black bears for trophies.
Most trophy bears are taken from Alaska, and most of them are from Kodiak. This is even more so now that brown bear hunting has been banned in Canada.
One reason why bears are hunted that most people are unaware of is for management. This happens when bears become used to being around people.
Often, people will feed bears or leave food, etc., at picnic sites. This encourages a normally shy bear to approach humans, thus creating a dangerous scenario.
Generally, in this situation, one of two things happens, wardens will either A) try to relocate the bear, and failing that, B) they will shoot the bear.
Typically this is also the case where any bear has attacked a human. Wildlife agencies will hunt this bear to prevent any further attacks on people.
Is Bear Hunting Necessary?
It is difficult to answer this question without standing on one side of the fence, either for or against bear hunting.
To try to give an unbiased answer, we can look at some of the facts we have.
Bear attacks are trending in an upwards direction across North America, and account for at least one fatality each year, with 6 fatalities in 2021. This is mostly caused because of people’s lack of respect or knowledge of wildlife.
In this case, the appropriate authorities decided the best course of action is to either relocate the bear or kill it. I agree with the authorities and believe hunting is necessary in this case.
The next fact we can look at is how many ungulates are killed by bears each year.
Brown bears alone account for a whopping 23% of moose deaths across North America. Left uncontrolled, this predatory behavior could decimate ungulate populations.
Hunting bears in this situation again is necessary. As long as people keep encroaching on wildlife land and developing settlements, which forces wildlife into small areas, bear hunting will always be necessary.
The last reason where I think bear hunting could be considered necessary is someone hunting for food. While necessary may not be the appropriate word here, I definitely wouldn’t say someone hunting bears for food is unnecessary.
Why is Bear Hunting Legal?
Normally for any wildlife hunting to be illegal is due to population management. Bear hunting is legal in most places because there is a healthy population of bears.
However, this is managed on a state and province level and fluctuates each season according to the population of bears. If the bear population dwindles in one state or province, no tags will be issued.
This is the case of hunting brown bears in British Columbia. As of December 2017 brown bear hunting in B.C has been banned.
Bear hunting often divides people. Whatever it is about bears, people seem more bothered about hunting them than deer or squirrels.
As long as there is a healthy population of bears, I see no reason not to hunt them. Black bear is one of my favorite foods.
The main reason people hunt bears is similar to the reason why I will continue to hunt bears, for food.