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The HSUS Applauds the California Senate Committee’s Passage of S.B. 1221

The HSUS Urges the California Senate to Swiftly Pass the Measure to Prohibit Bear and Bobcat Hounding

The Humane Society of the United States applauds the California Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water for voting 5 to 3 to advance Senate Bill 1221—legislation which would prohibit the inhumane and unsporting practices of bear and bobcat hounding.  Nearly 200 humane advocates attended the hearing to show their support for the legislation.

Hounding involves fitting dogs with high‐tech radio devices that allow bear and bobcat houndsmen to monitor the dogs' movement remotely. Dogs are released to chase frightened wild animals often for miles, across all types of habitat, including forests, private property, and into national parks. Dogs pursue their target until the exhausted animal climbs a tree to escape or turns to confront the dog pack. The hunter then kills his cornered prey.

“Hounding of bears and bobcats flies in the face of fair chase ethic and causes wildlife and dogs to suffer needlessly,” said Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, author of the legislation. “It’s no surprise that 83 percent of Californians oppose it.”

“Hounding is a cruel, unnecessary practice that tarnishes California’s reputation as a leader in animal protection,” said Jennifer Fearing, California senior state director for The HSUS.  “The Humane Society of the United States thanks Senators Lieu and Fran Pavley for their leadership. We’re thrilled that the committee has made the right choice to move this legislation forward.”

Sens. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto; Lois Wolk, D-Davis; Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego; and Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, voted for the measure. Sens. Doug LaMalfa, R-Oroville; Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield; and Anthony Cannella; R-Ceres, voted against. Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, did not vote.

Judd Hanna, former California Fish and Game commissioner, current CalTIP Foundation president and president of the California Game Wardens Foundation, hunter, rancher, and outdoorsman testified in support of the bill at today’s hearing, as did conservation biologist and predator expert Rick Hopkins, principal and senior conservation biologist for one of California’s foremost ecological consulting firms.

•    Hounding is an inhumane and unsporting practice where trophy hunters use packs of radio-collared dogs to chase down bears and bobcats before the hunter shoots the terrified animal off a tree branch. Dogs can be struck by vehicles, die from dehydration or as a result of violent confrontations with wildlife, and many are abandoned, which puts a strain on local animal shelters.
•    Bears are very poor distance runners and may tire and be overtaken by the dog pack. In bobcat hounding, the bobcat may stop and attempt to confront the dog pack leading to possible injury and death from the conflict for both the dogs and bobcat.
•    Fourteen states—including Montana, Colorado, Washington, Pennsylvania and Oregon—allow bear hunting but prohibit hounding. Montana’s wildlife management officials consider prohibiting hounding a feature of the state’s “fair chase” principles.
•    SB 1221 is co-authored by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, Sens. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco and Leland Yee, D-San Francisco and Assemblymembers Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, Bob Blumenfield, D-Van Nuys, Mike Eng, D-Monterey Park, Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada-Flintridge, Jose Solorio, D-Anaheim and Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara.
•    Thousands of California ranchers, hunters and landowners have written or called in support of SB 1221, as well as dozens of animal protection, wildlife rehabilitation and animal sheltering organizations including The HSUS, Sierra Club California, ASPCA, State Humane Association of California, Bear League, and Wildcare.


Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 301-258-1491, stwining@humanesociety.org