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California lawmakers seek ban on using dogs to hunt bears, bobcats

May 21, 2012 |  3:13 pm

Ted Lieu proposed banning the use of dogs to hunt bear and bobcat

The state Senate on Monday voted to ban using dogs to hunt bears and bobcats in California, with some lawmakers saying the practice is neither humane nor sporting.

The measure, which now goes to the Assembly for consideration, was fallout from a controversy in which the head of the state Fish and Game Commission used dogs to track and kill a cougar in Idaho.

Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) said it is not sporting to have dogs chase a bear into a tree where the hunter can then shoot it at close range. "It is inhumane to the wildlife, the animals the dogs are going after," Lieu told his colleagues.

But the proposal drew spirited debate before the 22-15 vote in which some Democrats joined most of the Republican senators in voting against the measure. "It’s an attack on rural California," said Sen. Ted Gaines (R-Roseville), who said the Legislature was limiting the ability of people in some parts of the state to make a living by using hunting dogs.

Others said using dogs reduces the chance of human injury or fatality in hunting dangerous animals.

Sen. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) questioned whether lawmakers should get involved in making hunting more sporting. "By that standard, we should issue guns to the animals being hunted," La Malfa said before voting against the bill.

The measure was supported by the Humane Society of the United States. "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 group, in a statement.


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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: State Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) proposed banning the use of dogs to hunt bears and bobcats. Credit: AP Photo / Rich Pedroncelli