Mar 16, 2010 3:14 AM by Bill Halter & Courtney Meznarich
The California Department of Fish and Game is considering expanding the area that allows black bear hunting to parts of San Luis Obispo County.
The move is one of the department's recommendations to the state to correct what they call an overpopulation.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors will have to make a decision, whether to stand by animal rights activists who want to protect the bears or let Fish and Game go through with its plan.
Department of Fish and Game Spokesperson Harry Morse says the current limits on bear hunting are not slowing population growth. "What we have seen over a 20 to 30 year period is a quadrupling almost of the bear population," Morse said.
However, not everyone agrees with those numbers.
Peggy Koteen, the SLO director of Animal Emancipation says, "The scientific studies are inadequate. We're not seeing this in this county."
Koteen says the state's decision should hinge on what the local community wants. "The state obviously doesn't seem to care about the opinion of the citizens of San Luis Obispo County. They have not had a meeting about this issue in our own county," she said.
Koteen applauds the Board of Supervisors for taking the time to address community concerns. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors will vote on whether or not to send a letter to the state asking it to oppose the bear hunting expansion.
"We have a coalition of over 60 different groups in California who are opposed to bear hunting, and we're trying to get the message to Fish and Game," Koteen said.
"Everybody has their right to express their opinion. Our job is to manage the wildlife by the mandates that are set forth by the state constitution and state laws and policies," Morse added.
Tuesday's vote may not have any pull with the state. It's just a recommendation.
Activists are also not so happy about an increased hunting quota, which the Department of Fish and Game wants to increase from 1,700 to 2,500.
The Fish and Game Commission has the final say, when it votes April 21.
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