BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    


          |                                                                 |
          |                   Senator Fran Pavley, Chair                    |
          |                    2011-2012 Regular Session                    |
          |                                                                 |

          BILL NO: SB 1221                   HEARING DATE: April 24, 2012  

          AUTHOR: Lieu                       URGENCY: No  
          VERSION: March 26, 2012            CONSULTANT: Bill Craven  
          DUAL REFERRAL: No                  FISCAL: Yes  
          SUBJECT: Mammals: use of dogs to pursue bears and bobcats.  
          Big game mammals are defined in Section 3953 of the Fish and 
          Game Code 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 of the Fish and Game Code 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. 

          Department of Fish and Game (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 section. 

          Section 4756 of the Fish and Game Code 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. 

          Section 3008 requires dogs to be under the physical control of 
          its owner or as authorized by regulations of the FGC. Those 
          regulations allow hunters to use radio telemetry devices, but 


          not GPS devices, on the dogs that are used to chase bears. 

          Section 597b of the Penal Code 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 
          Sec. 597b, but there is little legal authority that connects 
          this prohibition with the state's hunting laws. 

          DFG reports that about 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 CA 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. 

          45% of the bears were killed with the use of dogs. About 11 
          percent 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 
          4500 bobcat tags sold in 2011 with a maximum number of 
          tags/hunter of 5. 

          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. 

          PROPOSED LAW
          SB 1221 would prohibit the use of dogs for bear and bobcat 
          hunting. Hunters would still be able to hunt bears and bobcats 
          during the respective seasons for hunting these species. "Bears" 
          would be defined as any black bear, brown bear, or any other 
          subspecies of bear found in the wild in California. The bill 
          also adds a definition of "pursue" which defines what dogs would 


          no longer be permitted to do for a hunter: "Pursue" is defined 
          as "pursue, run or chase." The bill would not apply to the use 
          of dogs by law enforcement when pursuing bobcats or bears as 
          part of their official duties. 

          The bill would also repeal Section 4756 of the Fish and Game 
          Code that establishes times when a single dog can be used in 
          deer hunting versus when multiple dogs can be used. 


          The lead supporting organization is the Humane Society of the 
          United States which is heading a large coalition of animal 
          welfare organizations. Additionally, the Committee has received 
          support letters from dozens of other organizations including 
          Sierra Club California and a record number of emails from 
          individuals. The main arguments of the author and other 
          supporters are as follows: 

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

          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 bobcat.

          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, as well as many of the supporters, point out that 
          a Mason-Dixon poll conducted in 2010 FGC was considering an 
          increase in the bear quota, indicated that 83% of the California 
          population opposes bear hunting with dogs. 

          5. 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. 

          6. The sponsors and other supporters are concerned that 
          historically bear hunting has been closely associated with 
          poaching or other enforcement problems for DFG. Correspondence 


          from former DFG wardens or federal wildlife agency personnel, 
          some of it going back to the 1980's but continuing to the 
          present, has been provided to the Committee. Some supporters 
          argue that a ban on hounding will reduce poaching. 

          7. Many of the supporters contend that the use of dogs is not 
          "fair chase."  A small group of hunters have expressed this view 
          as well. 

          8. Hounding of large predators is not necessary for DFG's 
          species management purposes. 

          9. The old model of management of predators for sport hunting is 
          inconsistent with a more focused approach that would take 
          predators that actually cause damage. A more modern approach 
          would recognize the ecological value of top predators. 

          10. The incidence of human conflicts with bears or bobcats would 
          not be changed if there were a reduction in the sport take of 
          these species that relied on hounding. 

          11. Hounding has adverse consequences on non-target species such 
          as deer and other smaller mammals. 

          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 Committee also has a large stack of letters 
          and petitions with perhaps 1,000 or more individual signatures. 
          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 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. 

          7. The bill is part of an aggressive anti-hunting agenda-an 
          attack on hunting by those who dislike it. 

          8. Hounding is the most effective method of hunting bears and 

          9. Hounding has been lawful since the state's first hunting laws 
          were adopted. 

          10. The Legislature should not overrule the Fish and Game 

          11. If there are unintended consequences from this ban, the 
          investment of time, money, and skill that is required to raise 
          dogs to hunt bears will not easily be replaced. 

          12. Bears are harmful to cattle and destroy young trees that are 
          important to the timber industry. This bill could lead to 
          increased predation by bears. 

          13. The bill would result in a significant loss of revenue to 
          DFG because of the loss of hunting tag sales. 

          Staff is not recommending any amendments at this time. If the 
          author considers possible amendments, the Committee would 
          request to be involved, and may need to re-hear the bill which 
          is the usual practice. 
          The Humane Society of the United States (Sponsor)
          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
          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 Angeles
          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
          Thousands of Individuals

          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
          Thousands of Individuals