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california legislation > SB 1221

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Bill No: SB 1221
Author: Lieu (D), et al.
Amended: 3/26/12
Vote: 21

AYES: Pavley, Kehoe, Padilla, Simitian, Wolk
NOES: La Malfa, Cannella, Fuller

AYES: Kehoe, Alquist, Lieu, Price, Steinberg
NOES: Walters, Dutton

SUBJECT : Mammals: use of dogs to pursue bears and

SOURCE : The Humane Society of the United States

DIGEST : This bill prohibits the use of dogs for bear and
bobcat hunting.

ANALYSIS : Existing law prohibits a person from
permitting a dog to pursue any big game mammal, as defined,
during the closed season, or any fully protected, rare, or
endangered mammal at any time. Employees of the Department
of Fish and Game (DFG) are authorized to capture any dog
not under the reasonable control of its owner or handler,
that is in violation of that provision, or that is
inflicting, or immediately threatening to inflict, injury

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in violation of this provision. Under existing law,
certain violations of the Fish and Game Code (FGC) are
misdemeanors. Existing law prohibits a person from using
dogs to hunt, pursue, or molest bears, except under certain

This bill prohibits the use of dogs to pursue 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.


Big game mammals are defined in FGC Section 3953 as
antelope, elk, deer, wild pig, bear and sheep. Bobcats are
considered "nongame" animals although there is a hunting
season and those with a license and a bobcat tag may hunt
bobcat. A five-bobcat limit exists in regulations of the
Fish and Game Commission.

FGC Section 3960 establishes the criteria for when dogs may
be used to pursue big game mammals. Generally, dogs may
not be used during the closed season on such species, to
pursue any fully protected, rare, or endangered mammal at
any time, or to pursue any mammal in a game refuge or
ecological reserve where hunting is prohibited.

DFG employees are authorized to capture or kill any dog
inflicting injury to any big game mammal during the closed
season that violates the above provision.

DFG employees are immune from civil or criminal liability
as a result of enforcement actions pursuant to this

FGC Section 4756 allows hunters to use one dog for hunting
bear during deer season. It allows the use of an unlimited
number of dogs during bear season except when the archery
season for deer or regular deer season is open.

FGC Section 3008 requires dogs to be under the physical
control of its owner or as authorized by regulations of the
Fish and Game Commission. Those regulations allow hunters

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to use radio telemetry devices, but not GPS devices, on the
dogs that are used to chase bears.

Penal Code Section 597b makes it a misdemeanor to cause any
animal to fight with any other type of animal for the
person's amusement or gain. There is no hunting exemption
in Section 597b, but there is little legal authority that
connects this prohibition with the state's hunting laws.

DFG reports that approximately 1,500 bears were killed in
2010 by hunters in California. That number was 20% less
than 2009. Hunters are required to send an upper tooth to
DFG for DNA analysis. The total population of bears in
California was estimated by DFG to be nearly 40,000,
although the margin of error is nearly 8,000 bears. A
revised statistical estimate reduced the population to
30,000, although the margin of error remains high. The
take of bears has been declining, causing some to worry
that the population is not robust.

The bobcat population is estimated to be 70,000.

Forty-five percent of the bears were killed with the use of
dogs. About 11% of the bobcats killed in California in
2011 were killed with the use of dogs. These figures do not
include illegal take by poachers.

The counties with the largest bear harvest are Siskiyou,
Shasta, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Humboldt, and Mendocino.

There are about 25,000 bear hunters in California. There
were 4,500 bobcat tags sold in 2011 with a maximum number
of tags/hunter of five.

Eighteen states allow bears to be hunted with the use of
dogs. Fourteen states, including states with similar
hunting traditions to California, have bear hunting without
dogs. These include Oregon, Washington, and Montana.

California has considered and rejected similar legislation
in 1993 and 2003.

FISCAL EFFECT : Appropriation: No Fiscal Com.: Yes

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Local: Yes

According to the Senate Appropriations Committee:

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 sales.

SUPPORT : (Verified 5/8/12)

The Humane Society of the United States (source)
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Animal Legal Defense Fund
Animal Rescue Team
BEAR League
Best Friends Animal Society
Big Wildlife
Born Free USA
Environmental Protection Information Center
Haven Humane Society
Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association
In Defense of Animals
Injured & Orphaned Wildlife
Klamath Forest Alliance
Lake Tahoe Humane Society
Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care
Last Chance for Animals
Last Chance for Animals
Lions Tigers & Bears Big Cat Sanctuary and Rescue
Los Padres ForestWatch
Mountain Lion Foundation
Ohlone Humane Society
Ojai Wildlife League
Paw Pac
Project Coyote
Public Interest Coalition
Sacramento SPCA

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San Diego Animal Advocates
San Francisco SPCA
Santa Clara County Activists for Animals
Santa Clara County Activists for Animals
Santa Cruz SPCA
Sierra Club - Kern-Kaweah Chapter
Sierra Club California
Sierra Wildlife Coalition
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los
State Humane Association of California
The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center
The League of Humane Voters, California Chapter
The Marin Humane Society
The Paw Project
Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release

OPPOSITION : (Verified 5/8/12)

Barnum Timber Company
California Cattlemen's Association
California Houndsmen for Conservation
California Outdoor Heritage Alliance
California Rifle and Pistol Association
California Sportsman's Lobby
California Waterfowl Association
Central California Sporting Dog Association
Modesto Houndsmen Association
National Shooting Sports Foundation
Outdoor Sportsmen's Coalition of California
Safari Club International
Shasta County Cattlemen's Association
Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors
U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance

ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT : The lead supporting organization
is the Humane Society of the United States which is heading
a large coalition of animal welfare organizations. The
main arguments of the author and other supporters are as

1. According to the author, hunting bears with dogs is
cruel and unsporting. He objects to the practice of

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releasing dogs equipped with radio devices to chase
bears or bobcats across great distances, often across
private property or public property where no hunting is

2. As described by the author, at the end of the chase, the
bear or bobcat climbs a tree or fights with the dogs, at
which point the hunter can arrive and shoot the bear or

3. One supporter from Shasta County wrote that wayward
hounds have attacked her cats, her poultry, her
livestock and killed 14 deer near her home. There are
other reports of dogs being lost during hunts or injured
or killed by their prey.

4. The author and sponsors also have obtained numerous
reports that the dogs are often treated improperly,
especially those dogs which are rented from kennels that
raise dogs for the purpose of bear hounding.

5. The sponsors and other supporters are concerned that
historically bear hunting has been closely associated
with poaching or other enforcement problems for DFG.
Some supporters argue that a ban on hounding will reduce

ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION : It seems that every hunting and
sportsmen's organization is united against this bill with
the addition of a ranching organization, one timber
company, and the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors. The
main arguments of the opposition are as follows:

1. Bear hunting is necessary to minimize human-bear

2. Hunting with dogs is humane in the sense that the bear
or bobcat can be killed quickly.

3. The bill is simply an emotional attack on one type of

4. Hounding is necessary to meet DFG's management
objectives for native bears and that even with telemetry

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devices on dogs, the bear population has increased over
the last 40 years.

5. Hounders do not take the state's full quota of bears or

6. The use of dogs is part of a proud tradition of hunting
and is a very challenging and physically grueling
endeavor. Dogs are not mistreated.

CTW:mw 5/8/12 Senate Floor Analyses


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