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June 28, 2012

California Sportsmen Beat Back Bear and Bobcat Bill

In a victory for sportsmen in California, legislation that would have banned hunting black bears and bobcats using hounds and that was sponsored by the anti-hunting Humane Society of the United States, failed to pass out of the General Assembly’s Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee late Wednesday by a 6-4 vote. The general assembly took up the bill (S.B. 1221) after it was passed by the state’s senate.

An impressive turnout by hunters was credited with beating back the bill. According to the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance, more than 700 individuals showed up to oppose the legislation, and the testimony of several key witnesses was supported by 150 persons who stepped up to the podium to briefly state their opposition to the bill.

“This is a victory for California sportsmen, but they can’t rest yet,” warned Larry Keane, NSSF’s senior vice president and general counsel.

Reportedly, the bill can be brought back for a special “vote only” hearing sometime between now and July 6. NSSF encourages all California sportsmen to call members of the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee and urge them to oppose S.B. 1221. COHA advises to focus on Speaker John Perez, Assembly Member Jared Huffman and Assembly Member Ricardo Lara. For contact information for members of the committee, see this NSSF Blog post.

Regulating the use of dogs for hunting bears and bobcats or other species should be the responsibility of the state Fish and Game Commission. Decisions on the use of dogs for hunting should be made based on science and the facts, not on political or emotional considerations.

S.B. 1221 would not prohibit the use of dogs in bird hunting, but the bill’s provisions would  nevertheless threaten the future of hunting and its traditions. If such legislation were to pass, the anti-hunting community would not stop here, as evidenced by the Humane Society’s reference that the use of hounds in hunting had prompted the state to outlaw hunting mountain lions in 1990.

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