Is Revenge the Right Method to Manage California Wildlife?

Share Button

A recent Los Angeles Times blog sheds some light on what is behind the attack on California hunters… retribution.  Entitled, “Controversial cougar kill spawns proposed ban on hunting with dogs,” the story describes some of the motivation behind Senate Bill 1221, which would ban using hounds to hunt black bears and bobcats.

Times reporter Patrick McGreevy wrote on March 26th, “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 Fish and Game official is Daniel Richards, president of the California Fish and Game Commission, who went on a mountain lion hunt in Idaho, where he successfully killed a cougar.  Outraged anti-hunting groups, led by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), persuaded 40 legislators to call for Richards to resign over the hunt, which was completely legal in Idaho as it is in several other states.  Hunting groups, however, rallied to his rescue, pouring calls, emails and letters in to the legislature, which finally abandoned its attempt to remove the commissioner in March.

Now it would appear that the anti-hunting lobby and the politicians they work with want payback.  And that payback is in the form of taking hunting rights away from California hunters.   But is that any way to manage wildlife?

California’s method of conserving wildlife is based on the North American Model of Wildlife Management, in which hunters and anglers pay through their license fees to fund professional biologists to set seasons, bag limits and methods of hunting.  The system is deliberately set up to be separate from the partisan political squabbles that take place in the capitol.  The real story of this bill sets a terrible precedent.  It demonstrates why wildlife management should not be political.  Natural resources, including wildlife, are too important to be pawns in the dirty pool that has become common place in politics today.

Senate Bill 1221, was originally a bill that dealt with air quality issues.  But since the deadline to introduce new proposals had already passed, anti-hunting legislators stripped out the original language and dropped in the section banning the use of hounds to hunt bears and bobcats. This move took place late in the process to prevent sportsmen from having time to rally supporters and explain that hunters are being paid back by anti-hunting legislators for having the audacity to defend the right of a fellow hunter to go hunting.