A decision to permit hunting in three bear sanctuaries in North Carolina might get reversed if legislators rally around the cause, following public outrage that could be life saving for the bears.

In February, the North Carolina Wildlife Commission unanimously approved to re-designate the state’s 22 bear sanctuaries as bear “management” areas and to allow hunting in the Mount Pisgah, Standing Indian, and Panthertown sanctuaries, which have been havens for black bears for decades.

Lady Freethinker sent our petition, signed by more than 40,000 people in all 50 states, denouncing that action to the Commission, demanding a reversal — and we weren’t the only ones upset by this horrific ruling.

The North Carolina Rules Review Commission received 439 pages of letters from angered people asking for a rule reversal — which shouldn’t have come as a surprise, given that 86 percent of the 2,744 members of the public who wrote in during the public comment period opposed removing the sanctuary designation, according to Smoky Mountain News.

State law requires a legislative review for rules that receive more than ten letters requesting a change.

The state’s legislative session started May 4, and legislators now have 31 days to file a specific bill that would disprove the wildlife commission’s decision. That filing would immediately halt the hunting, as well as the designation change, until either an “unfavorable final action” or the General Assembly ends without passing it.

If legislators do enact the bill, however, the three sanctuaries’ bears will be saved, and more humane methods for reducing conflicts will be back on the table — like having people clean up their garbage or a public awareness campaign about common sense actions people choosing to go into the back country can take.

We thank the more than 43,508 people, from all 50 states, who have signed our petition denouncing this cruel and lethal solution to a preventable problem. We’re going to re-route our petition now to key North Carolina legislators to keep this critical issue on their radar. If you haven’t already, please sign and help us be a voice for these innocent bears.

SIGN: Stop Brutal Killing of Bears and Cubs in North Carolina Sanctuaries

Black bear among flowers.