Date of Hearing: August 8, 2012
ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
Felipe Fuentes, Chair
SB 1221 (Lieu) - As Amended: March 26, 2012
Policy Committee: Water, Parks and
Wildlife Vote: 8-4
Urgency: No State Mandated Local Program:
Yes Reimbursable: No
This bill prohibits the use of dogs in hunting bear and bobcats.
The prohibition does not apply to the use of dogs to pursue
bears or bobcats by federal, state, or local law enforcement
officers, or their agents or employees, when carrying out
1)Potential revenue loss of an unknown amount, likely in the
range of $150,000 annually (special fund).
The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) estimates that hound
hunters purchase 5,700 bear tags annually. If none of these
hunters purchased bear tags, currently priced at $42 for state
residents and $270 for nonresidents, following the ban on
hound hunting of bear proposed by this bill, then DFG would
experience a revenue loss of approximately $228,000 annually.
However, it is reasonable to assume that some portion of those
who currently hunt bear with dogs will continue to hunt bear,
and buy bear tags, following a ban. Indeed, some states
report an increase of bear tag sales following banning the use
of dogs for bear hunting.
DFG reports not having reliable data on the take of bobcats
through the use of hounds, but that annual bobcat take sales
total approximately 3,500 ($15 per tag) and bring in revenue
of about $54,000. Like bear tag sales, bobcat tag sales may
drop somewhat following a ban on the use of dogs. However,
because bobcat fur is a valuable commodity, there will remain
an external economic incentive to hunt bobcat, so the negative
effect on DFG revenue should be less pronounced that the
effect from decreased bear tag sales.)
2)One-time costs of approximately $25,000 to DFG and the Fish
and Game Commission (FGC) to revise hunting regulations in
keeping with this bill (special fund).
. Supporters argue that using dogs to hunt bear and
bobcats is inhumane, in that it places inordinate stress upon
prey animals and dogs; and unsporting, in that the brunt of
the challenge of the hunt falls upon the pack of dogs pursuing
the bear or bobcat, not the human hunter. Supporters further
note that hunting bear and bobcat with dogs often violates
several other provisions of law, including the requirement
that a hunter maintain physical control over his or her dog,
the prohibition against a person knowingly placing a dog in a
situation to fight another animal, specifically including
bears, and the prohibition against the harassment and harm of
female bears and cubs.
Hunting with dogs is an ancient practice that has
been allowed in California since the inception of statehood.
Current, state law allows hunters to use dogs to hunt raccoon,
beaver, badger, muskrat, bears, deer, wild pigs, rabbits, tree
squirrels, and nongame mammals defined as all mammals
occurring naturally in California that are not game mammals,
fully protected mammals, or fur-bearing mammals. Today,
thirty-two states allow bear hunting; 18 states allow hunting
bears with dogs and 14 states prohibit the use of dogs for
In California, bear hunting is regulated by the Fish and Game
Commission and administered by DFG. To legally hunt bear in
California, a person must obtain a tag from DFG, which
currently costs $42 for state residents and $270 for
nonresidents. Fish and Game Commission regulation limits bear
hunting to one adult bear per season and prohibits the harm or
harassment of bear cubs and females accompanied by cubs may
not be taken. Hunters may use one dog to hunt bear during open
deer season and an unlimited amount of dogs during open bear
season, except during bear archery season or regular open deer
seasons. Upon killing a bear, a hunter must surrender his or
her bear tag to DFG. Bear season opens the day the deer
season opens and continues through December or until 1,700
bears have been taken, whichever occurs first. DFG reports
that roughly 50% of bears are killed through hunting with the
use of dogs.
California bear populations are generally considered healthy
and growing, though population counts are disputed. For 2010,
DFG estimates the state's black bear population at 26,500.
However, acknowledges its estimate may be off by as much as
27%, putting the range of the black bear population between
8,500 and 33,000. DFG notes that recreational bear hunting is
not part of the state's bear population management program.
Similarly, a person seeking to hunt bobcat is required to
obtain a tag from DFG, which currently costs $15 each. Dogs
may be used to hunt bobcat, which is considered a nongame
species sought primarily for its pelt. In the 2010 - 2011
season, DFG issued 4,500 bobcat tags, 1,195 animals were
taken, 18% of them with the use of dogs.
This bill is supported by the Humane Society
(sponsor) and a long list of animal welfare organizations.
Supporters contend the use of dogs to hunt bears and bobcats
is inhumane and unsporting and conflicts with state laws that
require hunters, and others, to maintain control of their dogs
at all times.
This bill is opposed by numerous hunting and
outdoorsmen's groups who contend hunting bear and bobcat with
dog is a traditional practice with deep roots; that those who
engage in such hunting have a profound emotional attachment to
the practice, their dogs, and the environment; hound hunting
of bear keeps bear populations in check, as well as many other
Analysis Prepared by
: Jay Dickenson / APPR. / (916) 319-2081