Feds Say Nevada Black Bears Don't Qualify As Endangered

RENO, NV - Opponents of Nevada's bear hunting season have suffered another setback.

The U-S Fish and Wildlife Service has denied a petition from two of the anti-hunt groups to grant Nevada's bears protection as an endangered species.

The federal agency said there's no evidence Nevada's bears are a distinct population, different from other bears in the Sierra.

Nevada wildlife officials agree. In fact, after 15 years of study, they say the bears are really the same population, moving back and forth across the border at will.

"You'll see bears that will get tagged in Nevada and they will end up in California and not too long after you've tagged them," says Nevada Department of Wildlife spokesman Chris Healy.

But the bears' advocates say state and federal officials miss the point.

A spokesperson for one of the anti-hunt groups says their petition never argued Nevada's bears are a distinct subspecies, but they argue the bears in western Nevada's Pinenut, Sweetwater and Wassuk ranges are distinct, isolated populations and there's insufficient data on the population's size or ability to sustain an annual hunt.

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