Black bears are America’s most hunted large animals, and Wisconsin is the deadliest state for bears, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) said in a press release.
In the last decade, trophy hunters have killed almost half a million bears, HSUS said. Last year, it added, in the 32 states where hunting was allowed, the total bear deaths from hunting reached about 50,000.
In 2021 that number could rise with the addition of Missouri as the 33rd state where black bear hunting is allowed.
HSUS named Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Maine the top four deadliest states for black bears from 2010 to 2020.
In some states, there’s one bear hunting season in fall, but others also offer a second hunting season in spring.
Even though most Americans do not believe bears should be killed, bears remain “the most hunted large carnivore” in the United States, HSUS said.
The animal welfare organization thinks that bear hunting is so common in America mainly because state wildlife agencies and wildlife commissions tend to cater to hunters.
HSUS added the states where bear hunting is allowed “claim, without empirical evidence, that bears live in stable populations” and then provide trophy hunters the right to “manage” those populations, even when that management is unnecessary.
“Black bears should not be killed by the tens of thousands for fun and bragging rights under the state-sanctioned guise of ‘management’,” said Wendy Keefover, senior specialist of native carnivore protection at HSUS.
“Bears capably self-regulate their own populations and don’t need humans to do it for them. Simply put: This isn’t an animal problem, it’s an agency problem,” she added.
Bears have big personalities and are beautiful sentient beings, the Get Bear Smart Society says on their website. They have a keen sense of community and are emotionally intelligent animals who genuinely love their kids.
Neither the National Shooting Sports Foundation nor the National Rifle Association of America, which support game hunting, were immediately available for comment on the HSUS statement.