San Bernadino County News
A California Department of Fish and Game wildlife biologist, Kevin Brennan has been hunting bears for years, from California to Alaska, and including the San Bernardino National Forest. While it may not be common knowledge, he says the local mountains offer some of the best game when it comes to bears.
The local population of about 350 is generally larger and more edible than bears in more northern areas, says Brennan, who has been hunting since his days growing up on the East Coast.
"When the acorns start dropping the bears will feed almost exclusively on acorns. It provides some of the best tasting meat of any game. The last thing you want is a bear that is been feeding on garbage, because that's exactly what the meat will taste like," says Brennan.
So he says to stay away from the mountain communities where bears often scavenge. It is necessary to push deep into the woods, where a bear's one- to three-mile territorial range will not bump up against civilization. Bears grow bigger here, he says, because there is a longer growing season. That can provide hunters with a more impressive trophy. It also means a lot of work. Before he pulls the trigger, Brennan has to consider the chore that lies ahead.
"It's against the law to abandon game," he says. "You've got to skin it right away and quarter it and haul it out after you trim away the fat and the guts." An average-size bear of around 200 pounds can yield 50 to 70 pounds of meat.
The California Bear Hunting 2008 season runs from October 11 to December 28. Between 25 and 35 bears are taken in the San Bernardino National Forest each year. The statewide quota is 1,700 and is often reached.
Michael McBride, an assistant chief with Fish and Game, says California has a healthy bear population. They are one of the more popular animals to hunt in the state. "The big ones for Southern California are dove, deer, bear," McBride says.
While the sport is more popular in the northern part of the state, he says, there is plenty of activity in Southern California and he does not expect that to change. Surveys have shown nationwide that people tend to support the tradition of hunting. It seems to be part of the American heritage.