RENO, Nev. (AP) - A citizen's group is appealing the state wildlife commission's December vote to establish Nevada's first bear hunting season.
The nonprofit group NoBearHuntNV.org is trying to invalidate the hunt on several grounds, including that the commission failed to consider potential economic impacts to Lake Tahoe businesses, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.
The group further maintains the commission and Nevada Department of Wildlife failed to meet minimal public noticing and information requirements, failed to provide an adequate wildlife management justification for the hunt and failed to properly use science in estimating Nevada's bear population.
Commissioners are tentatively scheduled to consider the appeal when they meet in Reno on May 12.
"The bottom line is there is no reason to hunt these bears," said Christine Schwamberger, a Carson City attorney and organizer for NoBearHunt.org. "There's overwhelming public opposition."
Despite vocal opposition, commissioners unanimously approved the hunt after biologists assured them the state's bear population can support a limited hunt. Biologists estimate there are an estimated 200 to 300 adult black bears 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.
Commission Chairman Scott Raine has said the hunt is "clearly justified on the biological end of it," and described opponents as a "vocal minority" opposed to hunting in general.
But a leader of the opposition objected to the characterization.
"Actually, many of our group are sportsmen," said Kathryn Bricker of Zephyr Cove. "We are simply a group that represents the public."
Schwamberger said her group has heard from a number of Tahoe-area businesses that the hunt could affect outdoor recreation at the height of the summer tourist season. Plans call for the hunt to begin in August with a tag quota of 45.
During the May hearing on the appeal, the commission will consider reports from the group and wildlife department and then render an opinion, said Bryan Stockton, senior deputy attorney general. Comments from the public will not be allowed, he said.
The appeal, Stockton said, "is basically challenging the procedure the department and commission went through. The question is did the agency follow the proper procedure."
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