BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 2205
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          Date of Hearing:   April 29, 2014

                                Anthony Rendon, Chair
                   AB 2205 (Donnelly) - As Amended:  April 23, 2014
          SUBJECT  :   Hounding of bears 

           SUMMARY  :   Allows a county-by-county reversal of the ban  
          prohibiting the use of dogs to chase bears and eliminates  
          authority for an optional hound tag program.  Specifically,  this  
          bill  :  

          1)Requires the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) to report  
            various bear-related information to the Fish and Game  
            Commission (Commission) including, but not limited to,  
            bear-related incidents, sale of bear tags the previous year,  
            and if there is a need to adjust bear harvest quotas  
            (bear-related report). 

          2)Requires DFW to notify the Boards of Supervisors of each  
            county "affected by bear interactions" regarding the  
            bear-related report.

          3)Allows the Board of Supervisor of any notified County to hold  
            a hearing and determine whether DFW shall allow the use of  
            dogs to pursue bears and compel DFW to recommend to the  
            Commission, and the Commission to adopt, regulations allowing  
            the use of dogs to pursue bears in that County.

          4)Eliminates Commission authority to establish a program  
            requiring dogs that pursue mammals such as wild pigs to be  
            issued a unique license tag and instead creates a bear stamp  
            program for the use of hounds. 

           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)Prohibits the use of dogs to pursue bears except under  
            specified circumstances.

          2)Allows dogs that are guarding livestock or crops to pursue  

          3)Allows DFW to permit the use of not more than three dogs to  
            pursue bears under a depredation permit under specified  
            conditions including, but not limited, a requirement that  


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            nonlethal and avoidance measures were first used.

          4)Allows DFW to permit the use of dogs to pursue bears for the  
            purpose of scientific knowledge that supports the  
            sustainability of bears or healthy ecosystems.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   Unknown

           COMMENTS  :   This bill would allow piecemeal, county-by-county  
          reversals of SB 1221 (Lieu/2012) which went into effect January  
          1, 2013 and banned the practice of allowing dogs to chase bears.  
          This bill attempts to correlate the elimination of hounding  
          during the bear hunting season, which lasts approximately four  
          months and takes place in the wilderness, with overall bear  
          management or bear problems in the urban and rural human-bear  

          The practice of using dogs to hunt bears consists of setting  
          packs of hounds loose that are specially bred and trained to  
          chase after a fleeing animal while baying and barking to provide  
          its location.  Typically, the dogs are fitted with radio collars  
          so that when the dogs are no longer within the field of vision  
          or hearing of the hunters they can be located remotely. An  
          animal that is being chased may run for a short distance or  
          cover many miles as it attempts to escape.  In two separate  
          studies, scientists noted an average chase length of 3.2 hours  
          with some chases lasting as long as 12 hours and covering 18  
          miles.  If the dogs tree the animal during the chase, the hunter  
          or hunters are then able to catch up and shoot it out of the  
          tree or they can abandon it. 
           This bill requires DFW to submit a report on bear-related  
          incidents and then specifies that in response DFW should include  
          recommendations on the possible need "to increase or reduce take  
          in order to address bear management or population health  
          concerns."  However, as the analysis on SB 1221 noted, the use  
          of dogs to hunt bear and bobcat is a recreational pursuit and  
          not a DFW population management tool for bears.  Of the 32  
          states that allow bear hunting, 18 permit the use of dogs and  
          15, including California, Colorado, Oregon, Montana, Washington,  
          and Wyoming expressly prohibit it.

          In the original debate over SB 1221, proponents of hounding  
          argued unsuccessfully that using dogs to pursue bears and  
          bobcats was a valued tradition and a way of life for them and  
          that their dogs were prized athletes that were well trained and  


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          treated.  They also asserted that hounding helped with bear and  
          bobcat population management, public safety, and protection of  
          property, livestock, and apiaries.  They stated that the use of  
          dogs was more humane that other types of hunting as it allowed  
          for catch and release of animals and that hounding restrictions  
          would result in lost revenues to DFW and local economies.  

          Advocates for ending the practice of hounding bears and bobcats  
          maintained that the use of hounds during the hunting of bears  
          and bobcats was unnecessary and cruel because the hounds can  
          attack the bear or bobcat or it may turn upon the hounds,  
          resulting in potential injury to both.  Advocates for the  
          original ban stated that the failure of hound hunters to have  
          physical control over their dogs, which are sometimes many miles  
          away, put nontarget species, including threatened and endangered  
          species, at collateral risk for injury and disease from exposure  
          to dogs, their urine and feces.  Advocates of the ban stated  
          that the practice of hunting bears and bobcats with hounds was  
          unsporting, inhumane, and inconsistent with protecting animal  
          welfare, wildlife and natural resources.  In the end, the  
          Legislature and the governor were convinced by those arguments  
          and SB 1221 was signed into law on September 26, 2012.  

          In addition to reversing SB 1221, this bill would create a  
          precedent of allowing county governments to compel State action  
          with respect to wildlife. However, wildlife are not "owned" by  
          the Counties where they reside, they are held in public trust  
          for all of the people of California by the State. The only  
          County-specific provision in Fish and Game Code is a process  
          whereby counties can opt out of having an antlerless deer hunt.  
          But that statutory principal is the opposite of this one: it  
          allows Counties to be more protective of wildlife.  It does not  
          allow Counties to direct the State to be less protective.

           Supporting arguments  :  The author states that this bill would  
          provide counties with local control over whether or not to allow  
          the use of hounds to hunt bears and bobcats within their  
          jurisdiction and that "counties deserve local authority over  
          decisions which directly impact their economy, public safety and  
          traditional lifestyles."  The author states that bear guides and  
          hunters "stay in local motels, purchase gas, eat in their  
          restaurants and shop in local stores each fall."  Supporters add  
          that requiring DFW to make a triennial report to the Commission  
          will "allow Counties to make an educated decision on what is  
          best for their economy and the public, while appropriately  
          allowing DFW and the Commission to make science-based decision  


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          on bear management."
           Opposing arguments  :  Opponents argue that this legislation seeks  
          to completely undermine California's new law while establishing  
          a bizarre precedent for state wildlife management by county  
          supervisor fiat.  Opponents state that to "re-hear this issue  
          again so soon without any evidence of necessity is a waste of  
          the legislature's time and consequently, of taxpayers' money."   
          Other opponents state that this bill would "allow counties to  
          circumvent this needed reform, set a terrible precedent, and  
          deliberately create a confusion of regulations and loopholes for  
          those hoping to continue this outdated and cruel practice" and  
          that "many states have successful hunting seasons without  
          allowing hounding."  




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          California Houndsmen for Conservation (sponsor)
          Alcalde Ranch
          Amador County Board of Supervisors
          Butler Engineering Group
          Butte County Board of Supervisors
          California Coalition of Diving Advocates
          California Farm Bureau Federation
          Central California Sporting Dog Association
          Glenn County Board of Supervisors
          Humboldt County Board of Supervisors
          Lake County Board of Supervisors
          Lassen County Board of Supervisors
          Lassen County Fish and Game Commission
          Mendocino County Board of Supervisors
          Outdoor Sportsmen's Coalition of California
          Plumas County Board of Supervisors
          Safari Club International Calif. Chapters
          Scott Valley Veterinary Clinic
          Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors
          Sutter County Board of Supervisors
          Tehema County Board of Supervisors
          The California Sportsmen's Lobby, Inc.
          Tri County Houndsmen
          Trinity County Board of Supervisors
          Trophy Quest Taxidermy
          Tule River Houndsmen
          Yuba County Board of Supervisors
          Petition signed by numerous individuals
          Numerous individuals independently


          American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
          Animal Rescue Team
          Bear Education Aversion Response League
          Best Friends Animal Society
          Bird Ally X/Humboldt Wildlife Care Center
          Earth Island Institute
          Environmental Protection Info. Center
          Humane Society Veterinary Medical Assoc.
          Injured and Orphaned Wildlife
          Klamath Forest Alliance
          Lions, Tigers & Bears Sanctuary and Rescue
          Los Padres Forest Watch
          Mountain Lion Foundation


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          ORV Watch Kern County
          Project Coyote
          Protecting Earth and Animals with Compassion and Education
          Public Interest Coalition
          San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
          Santa Clara County Activists for Animals
          Sierra Club California
          Santa Cruz Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
          Sierra Wildlife Coalition
          Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles
          The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center
          The Humane Society of the United States
          The Marin Humane Society
          Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center in Morgan Hill
          Numerous individuals


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          Analysis Prepared by  :    Tina Cannon Leahy / W., P. & W. / (916)