August 16, 2012
The HSUS Urges California Assembly to Approve Legislation to Prohibit Bear and Bobcat Hounding
The Humane Society of the United States is urging its more than 1.2 million California supporters to contact their member of the California Assembly now that the Appropriations Committee has advanced Senate Bill 1221, authored by Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, to the Assembly floor. SB 1221, which passed the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee last month on a vote of 8 to 4 and the California Senate by a vote of 22 to 15 in May, would prohibit the inhumane and unsporting practice of bear and bobcat hounding.
Hounding involves fitting dogs with high‐tech radio devices that allow bear and bobcat trophy hunters 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 trophy hunter then kills his cornered prey, often shooting the animal off a tree branch at point-blank range.
“Hounding of bears and bobcats is an archaic practice that belongs in California’s past, not its future,” said Sen. Lieu. “Eighty three percent of Californians oppose hounding, and I urge members of the Assembly to vote in favor of outlawing this inhumane and unnecessary activity.”
“Allowing packs of radio-collared dogs to chase bears and bobcats for miles, only for the terrified and exhausted animal to later be shot out of a tree, is unacceptable,” said Jennifer Fearing, California senior state director for the HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States thanks Assembly Appropriations Chair Mike Gatto and calls on Californians to engage and urge their Assemblymember to ban this cruel and inhumane practice.”
- Fourteen states – including Colorado, , Montana, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington – allow bear hunting but prohibit hounding. Montana’s wildlife management officials consider prohibiting bear hounding a feature of the state’s “fair chase” principles.
- A statewide survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. in 2011 reveals that 83 percent of California voters oppose allowing packs of dogs to chase and kill bears – with 75 percent of voters saying they would support a statewide ballot measure to end this trophy hunting method that puts bears, dogs and other wildlife in jeopardy of serious harm, suffering and death.
- SB 1221 would make California the 15th state to prohibit the hounding of bears and the 14th state to ban the hounding of bobcats.
- 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.
- SB 1221 is co-authored by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, Sens. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco and Leland Yee, D-South 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 Californians including wildlife advocates, ranchers, hunters and landowners have written or called in support of SB 1221, as have dozens of animal protection, wildlife rehabilitation and animal sheltering organizations including The HSUS, Sierra Club California, ASPCA, State Humane Association of California, the Bear League and Wildcare.
- Editorial boards for the Los Angeles Times, the Ventura County Star, the Riverside Press-Enterprise, and the San Jose Mercury News have all called for enactment of SB 1221. The Marin County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles City Council have also passed supportive resolutions.
- The HSUS conducted an analysis of California Department of Fish and Game law enforcement reports from 2007-2012 and found more than 500 incidents related to illegal hounding activities and bear and bobcat poaching. The poaching incidents included houndsmen killing bears to illegally sell parts of the animals on the black market, houndsmen trespassing, poaching bear cubs, hounds attacking livestock and cruelty to hounds. Many of the poaching incidents were also associated with narcotics charges and other illegal activity by houndsmen with prior felony convictions.
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