March 29, 2021

All Bark No Bite: Nevada Commission Denies Petition to Ban Hunting Bears with Dogs

Contact: Keely Hopkins, Pacific States Assistant Manager


Why it Matters: Hunting with dogs has emerged at the forefront of controversial issues in several states, pitting anti-hunters against the many hunters who use dogs to passionately pursue their outdoor interests and hunting traditions. The Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners, by rejecting a ban on the use of dogs for bear hunting, voted against emotion-based arguments that misrepresent the critical role that Nevada’s many sportsmen and women play in conservation efforts and sustainable wildlife management.  

On March 20, the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners voted 5-2 to deny a petition to ban the use of dogs for all bear hunting. This important vote upheld Nevada’s science-based wildlife management and rejected emotion-based arguments from anti-hunters that inaccurately depict hound hunting and misrepresent its role in conservation.

The use of dogs has always been a deep-seeded component of hunting for wild game. Specific to bear hunting, without the use of dogs, sportsmen’s success afield would be severely limited. In Nevada, over 70% of the bears harvested are done so under the guidance of a licensed houndsmen and his or her hounds. The use of dogs provides a unique way for Nevada’s sportsmen and women to participate in a successful hunt, but also allows hunters to better fulfill their ethical obligations as conservationists. By hunting with dogs, sportsmen and women have increased time and opportunity to evaluate an animal prior to harvest. Using this method, hunters can determine the age and sex of the bear, and should it not fall within sustainable harvest objectives, release the animal unharmed. This important tool provides safeguards against any exploitation of the black bear population.

Nevada’s wildlife conversation success has been achieved through collaboration of Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) and Nevada’s sportsmen and women, and hunting has proven to be one of the greatest tools for wildlife and habitat conservation. The black bear hunt in Nevada has provided valuable revenue from license and tag sales, but also increases opportunities for sportsmen and women to support local economies through increased expenditures and tourism. The increased tourism associated with hunting provides vital revenue for Nevada’s rural communities.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted written comments to the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners during their March 19-20 meeting in opposition to the proposed ban on bear hunting with dogs and will continue to engage in efforts to advance and protect hound hunting opportunities.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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