BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  SB 1221
                                                                  Page  1

          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

           SUMMARY  

          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 
          official duties.

           FISCAL EFFECT  

          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 








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            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).

           COMMENTS  

           1)Rationale  .  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.

           2)Background.   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 
            bear hunting.  

            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 








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            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.

           3)Support.   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.

           4)Opposition.   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 
            arguments.  
           
           Analysis Prepared by  :    Jay Dickenson / APPR. / (916) 319-2081