Controversial cougar kill spawns proposed ban on hunting with dogs
Unable to get a Fish and Game official to resign for killing a mountain lion outside the state, two lawmakers on Monday introduced legislation that would prohibit the use of dogs to hunt bear and bobcat in California.
The legislation comes after state Fish and Game President Daniel W. Richards refused calls by 40 California legislators for him to step down after he shot and killed a mountain lion during a hunt in Idaho that used tracking dogs. California has long banned the sports killing of mountain lions, but Richards noted it is legal in Idaho.
On Monday, Democratic state Sens. Ted Lieu of Torrance and Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento amended legislation, SB 1221, to prohibit the use of dogs in hunting bobcat and bear in California.
"The continued use of hound hunting runs counter to California’s reputation as a humane state," Lieu said. "Hound hunting of bears is illegal in two-thirds of the United States; the time has come for California to abolish this inhumane and unnecessary practice.”
The bill is supported by the Humane Society of the United States, which said the controversy over Richards shed light on the practice of using dogs with radio-tracking devices to corner animals in trees so hunters can have an easy shot. “Hound hunting of bears is cruel and unsporting, and it’s at odds with the values of the vast majority of Californians,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the humane society.
But the proposal already has hunting groups, including the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, up in arms and vowing efforts to kill the bill.
The alliance said that 17 states allow hunting of bears with hounds. "In addition to an attack on hunters, the bill is also an attack on public safety as California black bear numbers have more than doubled over the past 30 years,'' said the statement on the alliance's website. The group sees the bill as part of an effort to "to ban hunting one step at a time," said Evan Heusinkveld, the group's director of state services, in the statement.
--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: Fish and Game Commission President Daniel Richards arrives for a meeting earlier this month in Riverside. Photographer: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times