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California Assembly votes to ban hunting bears with dogs

Hunting dogs

The state Assembly was divided as much between rural and urban lawmakers as it was along party lines Wednesday as it debated and then approved a ban on using hounds to hunt bears and bobcats in California.

Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills) led the charge for a bill that would outlaw what he called an "inhumane and savage" practice of using dogs to chase bears and bobcats for hours until they are cornered in trees where the hunter can shoot them.

"This is about an acute brutalization of wildlife for no reason," said Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) before the Assembly voted 44 to 29 to send SB 1221 to the Senate for action on amendments.

Several lawmakers from more rural areas, including Assemblyman Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber), blasted the bill as an attack on the state’s outdoor tradition. "The overt, absolute intent is to diminish hunting," Nielsen said, calling the bill "silly putty" for taking up the time of lawmakers who should be focused on the state’s fiscal problems.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-San Bernardino) suggested lawmakers from the city keep their nose out of the business of rural residents and instead deal with murderous street gangs that he said were populated by illegal immigrants.

Assemblywoman Linda Halderman (R-Fresno) said she was offended by comments by Blumenfield that suggest dog hunters use alcohol during the hunts. She said the comments were the equivalant of calling her constituents "rednecks." Blumenfield apologized for the comment on alcohol, adding, "This bill is not against hunting. It is against a particular form of hunting.''

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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento 

Photo: Houndsman Josh Brones' hunting dogs howl in the back of his pickup truck in June at his home in Woodland. The California Legislature is proposing to ban the use of dogs to hunt bears and bobcats. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times.

 
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