State Senator Ted Lieu represents District 28, composed of several Southern California coastal cities. So why has he co-authored Senate Bill 1221 – which prohibits the use of dogs to pursue bears and bobcats, when it has no relation or impact on his district’s geography? These cities contain plenty of cougars, but not in the traditional sense of the word.

Currently the law allows dogs to pursue any big mammal as long as they follow the rules outlined in their hunting license. SB1221 would prohibit the use of dogs to pursue any bear or bobcat at anytime UNLESS they’re used by federal, state, or local law enforcement officers when carrying out official duties.

SB1221 overreaches the governments boundaries and dictates how we should live our lives. Personally, I am not a hunter but I respect the rights of our citizens to be free and choose how they want to live their lives, even if I disagree with their actions.  The government should respect that right, too.

Currently hunting in California is highly regulated for bear and bobcat, especially towards minimizing the cruelty of the animals.  Prior to obtaining a hunting license, hunters must take an education course including classroom, homework and field instruction in areas such as firearms safety, sportsmanship, ethics and wildlife management and conservation.  Since 1948, hunting regulations have become more restrictive, prohibiting trapping, killing of cubs or sows with cubs, and reducing hunting to one bear per license year and/or five bobcats per year.

Why is it worse to hunt your allotted game with dogs?  Man and dog have been hunting together for 20,000 years since the Mesolithic era.  A strong partnership has helped keep both man and dog alive through the centuries.   These animals were born to hunt and are happiest when they are hunting. As for the claim that dogs are treated poorly, nothing could be further from the truth. Hounds men are renowned for treating their dogs like family. While there are absolutely bad apples in any group, the overwhelming majority of hunters take great care of their dogs. So why punish everyone for the errors of a few?

The alternative to using dogs is using a modern long range-hunting rifle.  Modern rifles can effectively kill a bear well beyond the range of the human eye.  At this distance it is hard to tell if it is a lone animal or a mother with babies concealed in nearby bushes.  Additionally, long shots are difficult.  A misplaced shot might leave the animal only wounded and suffering for a long time before it is consumed by other wildlife or the elements.  With dogs, the animal is treed and the hunter can then either make an accurate and lethal kill or decide to call off the dogs and let the animal live.

If SB1221 passes and becomes law:

It’s Another Step to Outlawing Hunting in California Completely
This is just another step before the state begins further regulating or even outlawing the tradition of hunting in California; including birds, small game and big game.  The CEO of United States Humane Society, an extremely vocal supporter of this bill, has been previously quoted saying “If we could shut down all sport hunting in a moment, we would.”

Department of Fish & Game Resources
Department of Fish & Game will now split their time between looking for hunters with dogs with more serious transgressions such as poaching (illegally hunting without a license), selling and trading bear parts on the black market, and finding bear cub killers.

Bears and Bobcats Can Kill
Black bear populations have increased dramatically over the past 25 years.  According to the California Department of Fish and Game, in 1982, the statewide bear population was estimated to be between 10,000 and 15,000. Presently, the statewide black bear population is conservatively estimated to be between 25,000 and 30,000. We must not forget that these animals are extremely dangerous and have killed adults and children.

Lost Revenue/Revenue Leaving for Other States
There will be a loss of revenue if this bill is passed. Not only will the state forego the revenue collected from permit and license fees, but hunters will head to other states to hunt. California is dead last in the health of our business climate and we cannot afford to burden our taxpayers more by further driving out revenue and businesses.

SB1221 overreaches the governments boundaries and potentially begins unraveling the longstanding tradition of hunting. With hunting being already highly regulated, SB1221 will lose tax revenue for the state, take Fish & Games attention away from more serious transgressions, and risk the safety of our communities with increased bear populations.

Current Bill Status: California Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee voted 8 to 4 to pass SB 1221 , and now it goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for review.