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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  • Sounds like an over hunting problem with the hunters. There not killing as many bear as they would like to. According to a local bear hunter,, when I asked what is the limit of permits and how many bear per permit, he said they don't enforce the amount of bear killed, because there are plenty of bear to kill. ( Problem ! ). If your not counting your population correctly, how can you know if the numbers are getting to low to survive a disease or outbreak, or a bad winter or etc. Also you could be losing genetic diversity that might be unique to that mountain area. We never act until the species is in big trouble. Keep common species common, than it will not cost thousands or even millions of dollars to try to save a species on the brink !

    posted by John Doe

    Tuesday, 02/08/2022

  • Is it to late to send messages?
    “ If you oppose the NCWRC proposal, please submit comments by January 31 to: Include name, phone and mailing address.”

    posted by Nancy

    Tuesday, 02/08/2022


    posted by Crystal Rani S Mabe

    Friday, 02/04/2022

  • Stop hunting and killing these beautiful animals!!!!! They are an important part of the ecosystem, they are living breathing beautiful animals. You have no right to hunt and kill them!!!!

    posted by Joyce Olsen

    Wednesday, 02/02/2022

  • I like hunting, but to allow hunting in a sanctuary makes a mockery of the term.

    posted by Quartermaster

    Wednesday, 02/02/2022

  • I am totally appalled that this is even up for consideration. Bears have been regulating their own populations for thousands of years. The problems exist because much more education is necessary to prevent bear/human conflicts. Because people have a tendency to be sloppy about attractants is no excuse to kill bears. Furthermore, I wish to point out that my tourist dollars will never be going to a state that allows hunting dogs and hunters to roam freely. I wouldn't want to feel terrified hiking and recreating in your parks.

    posted by Catherine Clail

    Wednesday, 02/02/2022

  • Sanctuaries are supposed to be safe zones for animals not staged killing areas. Leave the sanctuaries as they are. Hunters have a lot of forest to hunt in.

    posted by Barbara Hootman

    Tuesday, 02/01/2022

  • This is disgusting!! Stop it!! A Sanctuary is just that!! Do animals have anyplace to go to be left alone!!!!! This is barbaric!!!! Stop giving into what trophy hunters want!!! It's your job to protect!!!

    posted by Becky Sorensen

    Monday, 01/31/2022

  • I've hiked and biked in Panthertown for 20 years now. I've never found a more peaceful place with so many different eco-systems. The last thing I want to worry about when I'm down there with my grandkids is hunters and their dogs. Panthertown is so dense with underbrush that it would be easy for a poor shot to travel through the brush and endanger people hiking on the other side.

    With all of Nantahala National Forest to hunt in, I think it's reasonable to ask that Panthertown be kept the way it is, as a Bear Sanctuary.

    posted by Timm Muth

    Monday, 01/31/2022

  • I oppose the killing of bears in bear sanctuaries.

    posted by Shelley Jones

    Sunday, 01/30/2022

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