NAPA, Calif. – Grape-munching bears have caused bunches of trouble in Northern California wine country. Some winery owners have summoned authorities to trap and shoot black bears – as well as wild pigs, deer, turkeys and mountain lions – that plundered their vineyards. The killings have sparked debate over the future of wildlife in the nation’s most famous wine-growing region. “Certainly for areas like Sonoma, Mendocino and Napa counties, vineyards are our largest group that is requesting depredation permits,” said Eric Larson, deputy regional manager for the California Department of Fish and Game. With premium Cabernet grapes that can be produced only in mountainous regions selling for $5,000 to $7,000 a ton, vineyards have sprouted on slopes and ridge tops where animals make their homes. The state is required to issue extermination permits if property owners show evidence of damage caused by wildlife, Larson said. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake Earlier this year, animal control officers caught and killed four black bears – two males and two females – at the Aetna Springs Vineyard in the rugged Pope Valley. Winery owner Paul Maroon said he had tried scaring off the bears but resorted to having them killed because he feared they might hurt his field workers. “They damage the fences on a daily basis almost faster than we can repair them,” Maroon said. “The damaged fences allow the deer to enter. The bear eat the grapes, as do the deer, and they both damage the vines, sometimes killing … old vines.” But some of Maroon’s neighbors, including some grape growers, are outraged by the trappings. Ann Curtis, who runs a golf course down the road from Maroon’s winery, called the controversy “wine for blood, life versus profit.” “To come into a wildlife area and then kill off the wildlife is wrong,” said Curtis, who has lived in Pope Valley for 34 years. “I don’t see much difference between throwing a sandwich out the window for bears in Yosemite (National) Park and inviting them to dinner here by putting grapes out for them to eat.” Jerre Sears, owner of Black Sears Vineyards on Napa County’s Howell Mountain, said he and other growers he knows on the 1,800-foot peak shrug off the grapes they lose to wildlife as a kind of tax for doing business in hillside territory. “We’ve had our vineyard for 20 years and we’ve had a bear in our vineyard every year,” Sears said. “We feel it’s just part of life, of nature, so we share.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!