Defenders and opponents of a proposed Nevada black bear hunt are sharpening their legal pencils over the coming battle to get a bear season approved.

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_Some regional wildlife advocates are gathering petitions and urging state officials to reject the legalizing of black bear hunting for the first time in Nevada’s nearly 150-year history. The Nevada Wildlife Commission — composed of representatives from throughout the state and governing the Nevada Department of Wildlife — meets Dec. 3-4 in Reno. A hearing to consider legalizing black bear hunting is scheduled for Dec. 4. Nevada is home to 200 to 300 bears along the eastern Sierra, according to NDOW, with most in the Carson Range on Lake Tahoe’s East Shore. There also are an unknown number of bears in the Wassuk and Sweetwater ranges to the south.
_If the hunt is approved, specifics like a tag quota and length of season will be settled in the spring of 2011, according to the commission. The initial recommendation for a tag quota was 20 bears per season, said Carl Lackey, a biologist with the Nevada Department of Wildlife who has worked for years with the state’s black bear population, specifically at Lake Tahoe. “The bear population in Nevada could easily withstand a limited hunt,” he said.

“…The possibility of a legalized hunt has stoked outrage throughout the Tahoe community — particularly on the Nevada side of the lake. Hunting in the Carson Range, a popular recreation destination, could present unnecessary dangers to bystanders, said Incline Village resident Mary Ansari.

“Does it make sense to have a bear hunt in a mountain range that is so heavily used by recreationists and so close to urban areas?” Ansari asked. She also questioned why Lake Tahoe residents are not properly represented on the wildlife panel. The nine-member wildlife commission features three members from Las Vegas, two from Reno, one from Carson City, and one each from Eureka, Ely and Dyer. “I’m wondering how much input they have from those of us living with the bears at Lake Tahoe,” Ansari said. Many people who live in Tahoe have formed a deep emotional affinity with the animals, said Kathryn Bricker, a Zephyr Cove resident who has collected more than 500 signatures on a petition opposing the bear hunt. “As the wild mustangs are to many, and gorillas were to Diane Fossey, the Nevada black bears are to many of us who reside in bear habitat — intelligent, awe-inspiring creatures that we consider a part of our extended family,” she said. “We learn from them and love them, and we want to see them treated kindly.”
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