UPDATE: VA Votes Down Bear License

Roanoke Times, Bear Hunting Magazine
06/02/2009

The Board of Directors of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) has unanimously voted to reject a proposal to pull the bear tag from the state's big game license and establish a separate bear license.

The issue was among dozens of proposed changes considered by the board.

The idea had been brought forward in February by members of the Virginia Bear Hunters Association, a group of hunters who hunt bears with hounds. Some have said they feel bears deserve to be more than just bonus animals for deer hunters who luck into one of the animals. They also said they believed a separate bear tag could raise $300,000 to $400,000 annually for the game department.

Many deer hunters were critical of the bear license proposal, and plenty said they would expect the fee for the deer and turkey tags to be reduced if the bear tag was pulled from the big game license.

The VBHA seemed to expect the outcome. While they have flooded some DGIF board meetings when bear-related issues were on the agenda, only seven spoke during today's public comment period. And while several mentioned their support for the license, the bear hunters actually were more focused on criticizing expanded bow, rifle and muzzleloader seasons for bears (all of which were approved), and on what they believe is abuse of special permits issued for nuisance bears.


Original News Flash From May 22, 2009


Controversy over a proposed $25 bear hunting license backed by the Virginia Bear Hunters Association recently has grabbed the hunting headlines and divided sportsmen. Virginia currently has a big game hunting license that bear fall under as well as deer, wild boar and wild turkey.

The current debate follows last seasons record kill when hunters reported taking 2,204 bears, a number so great that Department of Game and Inland Fisheries biologists wonder if the population is getting out of hand in some areas.

While wildlife biologists attempted to direct attention to the need for more liberal bear hunting regulations, hound hunters managed to grab the spotlight with their drive to establish a bear hunting license.

The license concept drew several hundred comments on the DGIF public input site, the majority of them in opposition to the idea. The issue is scheduled for a final vote at a DGIF board meeting in Richmond on June 2, 2009.



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