District Judge James Wilson ruled a group called NoBearHuntNV.org failed to meet its burden to show why the hunt should not take place or that regulations were invalid. The judge also said the group’s challenge focused on a regulation — CGR 393 — that sets rules for the hunt but did not establish the hunt itself, which was authorized under a different regulation.
Christine Schwamberger, an attorney for NoBearHunt, disagreed with the judge’s conclusion and said the group was weighing its options.
The hunt itself is set by the commission internally and there is no procedural recourse to challenge it in court, she said.
“But the regulation we challenged was essential to the law. They could not have the bear hunt until they passed this regulation,” Schwamberger said.
Critics of the hunt claimed the Nevada Wildlife Commission didn’t give proper notice or adequately consider economic impacts or the need for the hunt before approving it in December.
The season is set to begin Aug. 20 and run through Dec. 31.
Regulations authorized 45 tags and allow up to 20 bears to be killed. Of those, no more than six can be females. The hunting season would close once those limits are reached.
State wildlife biologists estimate 200 to 300 adult black bears roam in the Carson Range around Lake Tahoe, with additional bears in ranges to the south. They said Nevada’s bear population is growing at a rate of about 16 percent annually and can support a limited hunt.
Residents there formed the NoBearHunt group, and argued among other things that hunting bears could depress their property values and hurt the economy and business interests.
“As taxpayers they want state agencies to honestly analyze the fiscal impact of their actions; some are hikers and are concerned about safety while hiking near hunt areas; some own property near hunt areas and are concerned about the danger hunters, hunters’ dogs and wounded bears may pose to them and to their family,” the judge wrote in summarizing the issues in his order.
“These arguments are undermined by the fact that CGR 393 did not establish the hunt,” the judge concluded. “NoBearHunt failed to produce evidence that changes made by CGR 393 — who is eligible for a bear tag, the fee for the bear tag, successful hunter reporting requirements, prohibiting killing a cub, etc. — will have any economic effect because of safety concerns, or that property values will decrease,” he wrote.
Wilson cited the regulation again in rejecting the group’s claim that the state commission violated and exceeded its authority “by authorizing the bear hunt.”
“This argument fails because CGR 393 did not authorize the bear hunt,” Wilson said.
Schwamberger said opponents can press state lawmakers to remove black bears from the list of game animals and instead be given protected status.
In the meantime, safety issues remain worrisome, she said.
“We still have safety concerns for outdoor recreationists,” she said. “And we just hope nothing bad happens out there during this hunt.”