CDFW Releases Anticipated Draft of “Black Bear Conservation Plan” for Managing Populations Across the State


The state is preparing to unveil an updated Black Bear Conservation Plan, and public commenting is open until June.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has released the initial draft, marking a significant update that has been overdue for over two decades.

The comprehensive plan emphasizes the need to classify it as a “conservation effort,” with strategies aimed at actively and passively managing bear populations.

The document highlights that black bear populations have been inaccurately represented over the past decade, as the CDFW previously relied on an indirect population modeling approach using age data from tooth samples collected by hunters, which was prone to errors. In April 2022, they introduced a more precise integrated population modeling method, incorporating black bear age data and other sources effectively, leading the department to update their management plan accordingly.

As part of the plan, the state will be divided into nine Bear Conservation Regions (BCRs). This decision is attributed to California’s vast geographical size and ecological diversity, where black bear populations may vary in abundance, genetic diversity, and susceptibility to diseases. The nine regions aim to reflect these potential differences.

Furthermore, this division will entail adjustments to the current annual harvest limits, which currently stand at 1,700 black bears statewide. Separate limits will be applied within each BCR.

The CDFW is welcoming public comments on the draft plan until June 14, 2024.