Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary
Senator Christine Kehoe, Chair
SB 1221 (Lieu) - Mammals: use of dogs to pursue bears and
Amended: March 26, 2012 Policy Vote: NR&W 5-3
Urgency: No Mandate: Yes
Hearing Date: May 7, 2012 Consultant: Marie Liu
This bill may meet the criteria for referral to the Suspense
Bill Summary: SB 1221 would prohibit the use of dogs for bear
and bobcat hunting.
One-time costs of $18,000 from the Fish and Game
Preservation Fund (special fund) beginning in 2013 for
changes to Fish and Game regulations.
Uncertain revenues losses, from negligible to a $265,000
annually but likely approximately $130,000, starting in 2013
from Fish and Game Preservation Fund (special fund), mostly
to the Big Game Account, from reduced bear and bobcat tag
Background: Current law allows hunters to use dogs for hunting
bears and bobcats. Dogs must be under the physical control of
its owner or as authorized by regulations of the Fish and Game
Commission, which allow the use of radio telemetry devices on
the dogs, but not GPS devices.
Over the past nine years, the Department of Fish and Game (DFG)
issued an average of 23,300 resident bear tags ($42/each) and
274 non-resident bear tags ($270/each) resulting in slightly
more than $1 million per year in revenue to the Big Game Account
within the Fish and Game Preservation Fund. Over the same
period, there was an average of about 3,000 bobcat tags sold
($15/each) for approximately $47,000 in annual revenue to the
Fish and Game Preservation Fund. An unlimited number of bear
tags are sold; however, once the annual quota of bears has been
caught for the year, the bear hunting season is closed.
Proposed Law: This bill would prohibit the use of dogs to pursue
SB 1221 (Lieu)
any bear or bobcat at any time. Use of dogs to pursue bears or
bobcats by federal, state, or local law enforcement officers, or
their agents, while carrying out official duties would be
exempted from the prohibition.
Staff Comments: According to DFG, this bill would necessitate
changing some regulations, at a cost of approximately $18,000
for staff time.
The other direct cost of this bill is the potential loss of
revenue from reduced bear and bobcat tag sales. Both DFG and
opponents of the bill estimate that approximately 5,700 tags are
bought by bear hunters using dogs (hound hunters), roughly a
quarter of sales. The extent of this bill's effect on tag sales
is uncertain. Opponents argue that all hound hunters would
likely no longer buy bear tags should this bill become law at an
estimated loss of $260,000. Approximately 11% of bobcats are
taken with the use of dogs. If all hound hunters additionally
stop buying bobcat tags, there could be approximately $5,000 in
additional revenue losses, for a total maximum impact of
$265,000 from reduced bears and bobcat tag sales. On the other
hand, the Humane Society of the United States, the sponsor of
the bill, cites data from Colorado, Washington, and Oregon that
indicate stable or increasing numbers of bear hunters and tag
sales after hunting with dogs was banned. Staff believes that a
reasonable cost estimate of lost revenues would assume half of
the bear and bobcat tags associated with hound hunters would no
longer be bought (a 12.5% and 5.5% reduction in tags,
respectively), or $130,000 in annual revenue reductions.
Staff notes that both the opponents and supporters of the bill
have contended potential impacts of the bill on enforcement
costs, all of which is speculative. Supporters note high
existing enforcement costs associated with the use of hounds for
bear hunting based on warden incident reports involving hounds.
Opponents, on the other hand, note that the Big Game Account is
partially used for enforcement purposes, so that reduced
revenues to that account from reduced bear tag sales may
translate to less law enforcement resources which can lead to
increased illegal activities at a cost to the state.
DFG notes that it uses tag sales to help estimate bear
populations. If there is a significant decline in tag sales, DFG
may have to find alternative approaches to gathering population
SB 1221 (Lieu)
data, which is needed to determine the annual quota of allowed
bear take. Population studies can be a significant cost-
possibly $250,000 annually. Staff believes that it is unlikely
for this bill to trigger this cost, especially noting
variability in past bear tag sales. Over the past nine years,
bear tag sales vary approximately ?8% around the average.
Additionally, DFG's current population estimates have a high
degree of uncertainty, so that a 12% change in the bear tag
sales may not greatly affect the accuracy and precision of the
This bill contains a non-reimbursable state-mandated local
program because it creates a new crime.