On Wednesday, Governor Jerry Brown signed controversial legislation banning the use of dogs to hunt bears and bobcats, which will go into effect January 1.
The bill, SB 1221, was introduced by Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) after Daniel W. Richards, the former president of the state Fish and Game Commission, sparked controversy by killing a mountain lion in Idaho, an animal that is protected in California, reports the LA Times blog.
“I applaud Governor Brown for signing this measure that will protect dogs, bears, bobcats and other wildlife,” said Lieu. “There is nothing sporting in shooting an exhausted bear clinging to a tree limb or a cornered bobcat. Hound hunting of bears is illegal in two-thirds of the United States. California now joins the great majority of states that have abolished this inhumane and unnecessary practice.”
The bill received widespread support from animal advocates, who argued that hunting dogs are treated inhumanely and sometimes abandoned, in addition to their being forced to face unnecessary risks when chasing wild animals. They also argued that the use of dogs leads to an unfair chase resulting in adverse effects on target and non-target animals.
“The curtain will soon come down on the bloodsport of ‘hounding.’ It is the right policy for California. Tens of thousands of citizens demanded this long overdue animal welfare reform, and today they won it,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States.
Hunters, on the other hand, argue that this will bring an end to a longstanding hunting tradition.
The bill makes exceptions for the use of dogs by researchers, or for tracking ‘nuisance’ animals that pose a risk to public safety.
Among other bills Brown signed that will benefit animals, he also signed a bill that is intended to ensure diversity in the Fish and Game Commission that will end the tradition of appointing senior members as president or vice president of the commission and will instead subject appointees to a majority vote. Candidates will also need to have a background in natural resources management, among other requirements.
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