BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

          |                                                                 |
          |                   Senator Fran Pavley, Chair                    |
          |                    2009-2010 Regular Session                    |
          |                                                                 |

          BILL NO: SB 1179                   HEARING DATE: April 13, 2010   

          AUTHOR: Hollingsworth              URGENCY: No  
          VERSION: March 24, 2010            CONSULTANT: Marie Liu   
          DUAL REFERRAL: No                  FISCAL: Yes  
          SUBJECT: Free hunting days.  
          Under the Fish and Game Code 3031, a person must posses a valid  
          hunting license to take birds and mammals in California.  
          Additionally, under 3050, in order to receive a hunting  
          license, a person must complete a course in hunter education,  
          principles of conservation, and sportsmanship or have had a  
          hunting license in the past. Hunter education courses are  
          offered by the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and cover  
          firearms safety and handling, sportsmanship and ethics, wildlife  
          management and conservation, archery, black powder, wildlife  
          identification, game care, first aid, and survival. Courses are  
          a minimum of ten hours. DFG must offer the course for free,  
          although DFG may charge a teaching-materials fee.

          Article 3, Chapter 1, Part 2 of Division 6 requires a person to  
          obtain a valid sport fishing license to take any fish, reptile,  
          or amphibia in the state. The director of DFG, notwithstanding  
          this requirement, may designate up to two days a year as free  
          sport fishing days during which residents and nonresidents may  
          fish without holding a sport fishing license, but are still  
          subject to all the limitations, restrictions, conditions, laws,  
          rules, and regulations applicable to sports fishing.

          PROPOSED LAW
          This bill would require the Fish and Game Commission to  
          designate two "Free Hunting Days" per year where a California  
          resident may hunt without a valid hunting license if they are  
          accompanied by a licensed hunter. Specifically, this bill would:
           Require that the unlicensed hunter is under the "direct visual  
            supervision" of the licensed hunter at all times;


           Allow the licensed hunter to supervise multiple unlicensed  
           Allow DFG to require that the unlicensed hunter first  
            demonstrate the safe operation of the firearm that they intend  
            on using. Under the bill, the following individuals may  
            evaluate safe operation of a firearm: federally licensed  
            firearms dealers and their employees, a DFG certified Hunter  
            Education Instructor, or a licensed hunter that has had a  
            valid hunting license for the past three years; and
           Prohibit unlicensed hunters from taking species that require a  
            draw or lottery to obtain a tag or any species that is subject  
            to a federal stamp or federal reporting requirements.

          According to the author, "SB 1179 hopes to introduce more people  
          to the sport of hunting. Not only is hunting a time-honored  
          outdoor activity which has deep roots in our nation's culture,  
          but it is also an activity which generates a great deal of  
          commerce and sales tax revenue. Hunters purchase gas, food,  
          clothing, supplies, and lodging accommodations, pumping millions  
          of critical dollars into local economies. This is especially  
          true in the depressed rural areas of our state where job  
          opportunities are often limited, but good hunting areas are in  
          ample supply." The author also submitted statistics to the  
          committee from the National Shooting Sports Foundation that  
          demonstrate that accidental firearms fatalities are at an all  
          time low, the injury rate of hunting compared to other  
          recreation, and the impact of the firearms industry on  
          California's economy.

          None received

           Hunter education- a key difference between free fishing days and  
          free hunting days:  Free fish days simply allow individuals to  
          fish without purchasing a license. Free hunting days, as  
          proposed by this bill, would allow individuals to not only hunt  
          without a license but also to forgo a hunter education. The  
          Legislature enacted hunting education requirements in order to  
          ensure the health and safety of hunters and to reflect the  
          Legislature's intent that hunters be aware of their  
          responsibilities "to others, towards wildlife, and toward their  
          natural environment." According to the Fish and Game website,  
          hunting accidents of all types have declined substantially with  
          the education requirement. However, the courses offered by DFG  
          go further than firearm safety by also teaching topics including  


          wildlife management and conservation, wildlife identification,  
          game care, and first aid. The committee may wish to consider  
          whether it is desirable to allow an individual to hunt without  
          receiving a more comprehensive hunting education course.

           Are there sufficient safety precautions in this bill?  This bill  
          raises a number of safety questions including:
           There are no limits to how many unlicensed hunters each  
            licensed hunter can supervise. The committee may wish to  
            consider whether the supervising hunter can actively supervise  
            multiple, presumably inexperienced, hunters.
           There is no minimum age limit for the unlicensed hunter. While  
            there is no minimum age to obtain a hunting license under  
            current law (Big game stamps require the hunter to be at least  
            12 years of age), an individual must have enough maturity and  
            reading comprehension to pass the hunters education course.  
            This bill would allow individuals to bypass this de facto  
            minimum age and maturity limit. 
           There is no minimum age or experience required to be a  
            supervising hunter. This bill would allow a new hunter, who  
            could also be quite young, to supervise an unlicensed hunter.  
            Also, this bill would allow hunters, even if they have a  
            record of hunting violations, to be a supervising hunter. 
           The bill requires the licensed hunter to be in "direct visual  
            supervision," but the licensed and unlicensed hunters could be  
            hundreds of feet apart, which would limit the supervisor's  
            ability to provide guidance and safety, especially if the  
            supervising hunter is responsible for multiple unlicensed  
          The committee may wish to consider whether the safety issues in  
          the bill as written override the objective to expose more people  
          to hunting.

           Who should be eligible for a free hunting day?:  DFG uses the  
          proceeds from hunting licenses for conservation purposes for the  
          sake of the resource itself and to preserve the future of  
          hunting. Allowing all individuals to hunt for two free days may  
          decrease the number of hunting licenses sold and thereby  
          decrease DFGs already reduced ability to conserve wildlife in  
          the state. The committee should note that under this bill all  
          California residents are eligible for free hunt days in  
          California, including those who have held hunting licenses in  
          the past. Thus, an individual who maybe only interested in  
          hunting once or twice a year may use the free hunt days instead  
          of purchasing a license. If the author's intent is to encourage  
          the development of new hunters, the committee may wish to  
          consider whether free hunting days should only be available to  


          individuals who have never held a license in the past.
          Making a free hunting day work logistically and drafting errors  :  
          A number of hunting rules and regulations require the reporting  
          of a hunting license number, such as reporting take and entering  
          state wildlife areas. This bill does not address these logistics  
          nor does it give DFG the latitude to address these issues  
          through regulations. Also, in order for this bill to make  
          hunting days legal, this bill needs to exempt unlicensed hunters  
          from the existing requirements in 3031 and 3050.

          California Association of Firearms Retailers
          California Sportsman's Lobby, Inc.
          National Rifle Association of America
          National Shooting Sports Foundation, Inc.
          Outdoor Sportsmen's Coalition of California
          Safari Club International
          Sierra Club 
          2 individuals

          None Received