For more than 10 years, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has been asking hunters not to shoot radio-collared bears, but the hunters have not listened and it is still legal to shoot these precious, researched bears.
On Monday, Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr announced that radio-collared bears will continue to be fair game for hunters in Minnesota. He told Minnesota Public Radio that “the decision that [he] made doesn’t change anything. Bears have been subject to hunting seasons in the past, they will be in the future.” Unfortunately, Landwehr does not seem to think there is any reason to change the status quo.
Concerned Care2 members have created a petition to help protect the bears.
The current law states that if a radio-collared bear is personally accompanied by a researcher, it is illegal to shoot it. Obviously, it is not realistic to be able to accompany a bear one hundred percent of the time. Besides that, the research institutes do not want the bears to become used to human contact; they only wish to track their behavior via their radio collars.
In last year’s hunting season alone, eleven research bears were killed by hunters. Nine were being tracked by Minnesota bear biologist Dr. David Garshelis, and the other two were part the North American Bear Center’s research. These bears are part of the largest black bear research study ever conducted and provide essential information on the species.
In January, The Minnesota Bear Guides Association, the area’s largest bear hunting guide service, made it clear that they would begin supporting the protection of these bears if they were given brightly-colored ear tags. Their support could make a huge impact on the safety of these bears.
The research institutes chose not to put ear tags in place, a process that would involve tranquilizing the bear. As an alternative, they added brightly colored tape to the bears’ collars to make them clearly visible as research study bears. This action would ideally deter hunters from shooting them, but has not proven to be effective.
The North American Bear Center has created a list of 10 reasons why it is important to protect radio-collared bears.
To learn more about this topic and see a list of representatives you can call to make your voice heard, click here.
Please sign this petition encourage lawmakers to create legislation to protect radio collared bears.
Photo Credit: istock.com
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