Archived Opinion

No to sanctuary bear hunting

No to sanctuary bear hunting

To the Editor:

The Bear Education and Resource (B.E.A.R.) Task Force stands in opposition to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission proposal to open bear hunting seasons in Panthertown Valley (officially known as the Panthertown-Bonas Defeat Bear Sanctuary).

As North Carolina was settled, the hunting of bears was “intensive and unregulated,” causing populations to plunge. The state’s bear sanctuary system was created in 1971 to provide a safe natural environment where bears could live and multiply without being hunted. It has been “a primary factor in the recovery of bear populations.”

With populations rebounding, the state recently decided to “add or remove sanctuary based on bear population objectives, in combination with hunter desires and human-bear interactions.” 

Panthertown Valley is not just a bear sanctuary; it is a Blue Ridge National Heritage Area and a Mountain Treasures Area. It is also a very popular year-round destination for hiking, camping, bicycling, rock climbing, etc.

Human-bear encounters have been reported in the valley, which prompted the Friends of Panthertown to do educational outreach as well as install bear-proof food lockers at two campsites. Their efforts have been so effective that in 2021 there were zero reports of problems.

It is our feeling that a hunting season is not necessary. Indeed, it would turn the bears’ heretofore peaceful lives into a cycle of harassment, terror and killing. Additionally, it would affect people recreating in the valley and living nearby as they are subjected to dogs running wild and the sounds of gunshots. At the height of the fall color season no less.

Bear biology naturally regulates populations. In response to poor food availability, they have fewer babies. It makes sense that as bears are killed, more food will be available, with a resultant increase in population. 

The B.E.A.R. Task Force simply cannot condone the unfair and violent “sport” of hunting with dogs, especially in Panthertown Valley We are dedicated to education and the promotion of safe, harmonious coexistence between humans and bears. Therefore, we have committed to providing two additional bear-proof storage lockers and educational materials for the Friends of Panthertown to continue their successful efforts to reduce human-bear incidents.

If you oppose the NCWRC proposal, please submit comments by January 31 to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Include name, phone and mailing address.

Cynthia Strain, chairwoman

B.E.A.R. Task Force


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