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The Humane Society of the United States Applauds the California Legislature for Passing Bill to Prohibit Bear and Bobcat Hounding

The HSUS Encourages Governor Brown to Sign SB 1221 into Law

The Humane Society of the United States applauds the state Senate for giving final passage and sending to Gov. Jerry Brown an important bill to outlaw the use of packs of hounds in the trophy hunting of bears and bobcats. The vote was 22 to 13 to accept the final bill, which had to come back to the Senate after the Assembly made some modest amendments. Senator Ted Lieu and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg led the effort to get the bill enacted, and The HSUS extends special appreciation to them for their incredible effort.

“The support for this legislation to outlaw archaic and cruel hounding has been overwhelming,” said the bill’s author, Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance. “I urge Governor Brown to honor the values and wishes of the vast majority of Californians by signing this bill into law.”

Hounding is an unnecessary and cruel practice, opposed by a vast majority of Californians, in which dogs are fitted with high‐tech radio devices that allow bear and bobcat trophy hunters to follow the pursuit 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 arrives to the scene and often shoots the animal off a tree branch at point-blank range.

“The practice of hounding is cruel and unnecessary, and it’s bad for bears, bobcats and dogs,” said Jennifer Fearing, California senior state director for The HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States thanks President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Senator Lieu for their leadership, and we urge Governor Brown to sign SB 1221 into law.”

“Hounding of bears and bobcats is wrong, and it has gone on for too long in California,” added Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “Other western states have banned this abusive form of trophy hunting, and it’s time for California to join them.”

Approved amendments to SB 1221 would exempt using hounds in wildlife research, for depredation permits, and as guard dogs protecting livestock or crops. 


  • The Senate previously approved SB 1221 by a bipartisan vote of 22 to 15.  Last week, the Assembly approved the bill by a bipartisan vote of 46-30. The final Senate vote today was 22 to 13.
  • 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.
  • 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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