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August 22, 2012

The HSUS Applauds the California Assembly for Passing Legislation to Prohibit Bear and Bobcat Hounding

The Humane Society of the United States applauds the Assembly for approving Senate Bill 1221, authored by Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, to prohibit the inhumane and unsporting practice of bear and bobcat hounding. The legislation, approved today by a bipartisan vote of 46 to 30, will now head to the Senate for concurrence before going to Gov. Jerry Brown. The Senate previously approved SB 1221 by a vote of 22 to 15.

“Californians have been clear with their legislators at each vote that hounding is a cruel practice with no place in our state,” said Sen. Lieu. “I urge my colleagues in the Senate to approve the changes quickly and get this legislation to the governor.”

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.

“More than 80 percent of Californians oppose the cruel and unnecessary practice of hounding, which is bad for bears, bobcats and dogs,” said Jennifer Fearing, California senior state director for The HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States thanks Speaker John A. Perez, D-Los Angeles, and Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield, D-San Fernando Valley, for their leadership and calls on the Senate to reaffirm its original vote on SB 1221 and send this measure to the governor for his signature.”

The Assembly approved amendments to SB 1221 that would exempt using hounds in wildlife research or under depredation permits and inadvertent situations of dogs chasing wildlife on private property. 

Facts:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Media Contact: Kaitlin Sanderson: 301-721-6463, 240-672-8397, ksanderson@humanesociety.org

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