A new kind of bear

Speaking of the Endangered Species Act, those trying to use obscure univalves to gum up the water authority’s pipeline project aren’t the only Nevada environmental advocates taking a giant leap to test the limits of the law.

Consider the group NoBearHuntNV.org.

Members of the group tried mightily earlier this year to prevent Nevada’s first black bear hunt. They submitted a petition with 15,000 signatures to the governor. They pleaded before the Nevada Wildlife Commission.

Such grass-roots activism certainly is admirable.

But the commission nevertheless determined that the state’s black bear population is too large and could be thinned. So the panel authorized a hunt starting Aug. 20, allowing a maximum of 20 bears — including six females — to be killed by late December. Seven have been killed so far.

The wildlife commission meets next week in Reno to consider whether the hunt should return annually.

So NoBearHuntNV.org did what any environmentalist group worth its salt would do: It ran to the federal government. Along with the group Big Wildlife, NoBearHuntNV.org petitioned the U.S. Department of Interior to — you guessed it — have Nevada’s black bears protected under the Endangered Species Act.

A predatory wild animal population that has been allowed to grow too large and must be hunted is … endangered?

According to the groups, Nevada’s black bears are a distinct species, genetically different from all the other black bears wandering the American wilderness. They call Nevada’s bears the “Sky Island” population.

Alrighty then.

“It just doesn’t meet any of the criteria,” Nevada Department of Wildlife spokesman Chris Healy told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “Just because there’s a line on a map doesn’t make something a distinct population.”

However much time the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spends on this frivolous petition will waste precious taxpayer resources. If NoBearHuntNV.org and Big Wildlife can’t be sanctioned for this petition, the government should at least send them a bill.

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