A bill is pending in the California Senate to outlaw hunting bear and bobcat with dogs, and it's the wrong-headed product of our tit-for-tat, ?holier than thou? political system.
Even more worrisome, the California anti-dog hunting bill (called SB 1221) is also the latest attempt by animal-rights proponents, led by the Humane Society of the U.S., to ban all types of hunting and, then, ban all keeping or using of animals. And that's why anyone who rides horses or keeps a dog or a cat should oppose this blasphemy.
On April 24, SB 1221 passed the California Senate Committee on Natural Resources by a vote of 5-3?the five Democrats in favor, the three Republicans opposed. The bill?s movement through Sacramento shows how clever HSUS leaders are at manipulating the politicos.
Here's what Los Angeles Times reporter Patrick McGreevy wrote in his blog on March 26, just after the bill was first introduced:
?Unable to get a Fish and Game official to resign for killing a mountain lion outside the state, two lawmakers on Monday introduced legislation that would prohibit the use of dogs to hunt bear and bobcat in California.
?The official is Daniel Richards, president of the California Fish and Game Commission, who went on a mountain lion hunt in Idaho, where he successfully killed a cougar.? Outraged anti-hunting groups, led by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), persuaded 40 legislators to call for Richards to resign over the hunt, which was completely legal in Idaho, as it is in several other states.? Hunting groups, however, rallied to his rescue, pouring calls, emails and letters in to the legislature, which finally abandoned its attempt to remove the commissioner in March.
?Now it would appear that the anti-hunting lobby and the politicians they work with want payback.? And that payback is in the form of taking hunting rights away from California hunters.?? But is that any way to manage wildlife'
?California?s method of conserving wildlife is based on the North American Model of Wildlife Management, in which hunters and anglers pay through their license fees to fund professional biologists to set seasons, bag limits and methods of hunting.? The system is deliberately set up to be separate from the partisan political squabbles that take place in the capitol.? The real story of this bill sets a terrible precedent.? It demonstrates why wildlife management should not be political.? Natural resources, including wildlife, are too important to be pawns in the dirty pool that has become commonplace in politics today.?
A few of the ?hunting groups? that McGreevy refers to are the U.S. Sportsmen?s Alliance, the National Animal Interest Alliance, the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance, Wildlife Conservation Partners, and the Masters of Foxhounds Association. These groups? leaders and members are very worried about the precedent this bill could set along the path toward the HSUS goal of turning them into outlaws.
As evidence of SB 1221?s wrong-headedness, I submit these three facts: First, in April, the state Assembly's Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee unanimously passed Assembly Bill 1784, a measure that specifically would allow mountain lion research to be conducted with the aid of dogs.
Second, California's hunters and fishermen pay considerably in license fees to fund professional biologists who set seasons, bag limits and methods of hunting. The system was deliberately set up to be separate from partisan politics, and SB 1221 demonstrates why wildlife management should not be political. It should be the responsibility of people who know wildlife and are trained and paid to manage wildlife. ???????? Third, the passage of SB 1221 would have a substantial impact on the Department of Fish and Game?s annual revenue.? According to the Department of Finance?s opposition testimony in the Senate Appropriations Committee, more than 5,700 bear tags are sold annually to individuals who mainly hunt bears, and who only use hounds to pursue them.? In 2011, hunting licenses and bear tags cost $43.46 and $42.38, respectively.? As a result, the Department of Finance estimates that DFG will lose more than $350,000 annually in tag and license revenue alone, if SB 1221 becomes law.
You may respond, ?Well, I don't hunt, and I like bears and bobcats, why should I care' Why shouldn't I support this bill'?
OK, if the reasons above haven't persuaded you, I'll give you two more.
First, wildlife management, especially of large predators like bears and bobcats, is now an essential duty of our federal and state governments, because our burgeoning human population has now encroached deeply into the predators? natural habitat. Despite its housing sprawl, and because of hunting laws to protect them, Virginia actually has more bears than any other state (I can remember seeing bears three or four times when I lived there). Meanwhile, here in California I see bobcat on our farm three or four times a year. (Hardly a week goes by when we don't see at least one coyote, and it's a rare night when we don't hear them howling.) And lets not even talk about the alligator encounters in Florida.
These predators have to be kept under control, as safely and humanely as possible. And the surest and most humane way to find them, and then either trap or shoot them, is with hounds.
Second, the bill will affect anyone who enjoys hiking or camping with their family dog. The bill gives Fish and Game wardens the subjective authority to kill any dog they perceive to be chasing a bear or bobcat in a "threatening" manner. Consider the scenario of a hiker whose pet instinctively chases an animal only to be shot and killed on the sole judgment of a game warden. that's no way to manage public resources or to deal with the public.
To contact to the pertinent California state senators, go to the U.S. Sportsmen?s Alliance website (www.ussportsmen.org).