A longstanding ban on bear hunting in North Carolina has been lifted by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, allowing bear hunting in three sanctuaries in the state.
Bear hunting has been banned in North Carolina’s Panthertown-Bonas Defeat, Standing Indian and Pisgah Bear sanctuaries since 1971.
According to The Guardian, the North Carolina commission voted to allow bear hunting in the three sanctuaries, spanning over 92,500 acres of mountainous forests in the southern part of the state.
The sanctuaries are set to open to hunters later in 2022, although thousands have signed a petition against this move.
However, since 1971, the number of black bears have since grown from 1,000, to around 25,000, according to the wildlife commission.
In a public hearing back in January, the commission said the US Forest Service had requested hunting to be allowed in the sanctuaries due to higher human-bear interactions.
The commission voted in favor of the proposal in late February, although there’s been a number of people against the move. One of those is Bill Lea, a North Carolina-based nature photographer and retired US Forest Service assistant district ranger.
He weighed in on the move:
“It will definitely not target the actual bears involved in the original complaint of ‘increased bear-human interactions’.
Instead, the plan will target many of the younger bears who have just started life on their own away from their mothers and who have not yet developed the skills to elude the packs of vicious dogs and hunters.
The indiscriminate killing of bears never addresses the problem of individual bear behavior.”
The American black bear is native to North America, and can be found in Canada, and a number of western and eastern states like North Carolina, California, and New York.
The petition against the move has been signed by over 8,000 people, and agree that humans are normally to blame for the encounters.