In a final decision on the matter, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 1221, effectively banning the use of dogs to hunt bears and bobcats in California.
In short, the bill,
- takes effect January 1, 2013;
- makes hunting bear and bobcat with a dog a misdemeanor;
- authorizes employees of the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to capture any dog not under reasonable control of its owner or handler;
- authorizes no more than three dogs to be used to remove nuisance bears or bobcats with the proper depredation permit issued by the DFG.
There are still exceptions for aggressive animals and research included within the bill. Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance introduced it for the first time in February, 2012, at the request of various animal rights groups, including the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
“There is nothing sporting in shooting an exhausted bear clinging to a tree limb or a cornered bobcat,” Lieu said in a written statement, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. “Hound hunting of bears is illegal in two-thirds of the United States. California now joins the great majority of states that have abolished this inhumane and unnecessary practice.”
Numerous sportsmen groups were opposed to the bill, saying this strongly goes against the tradition of hunting. Hound hunting has been legal since the state formally organized a committee to manage wildlife and hunting in the late 1800s. Many republicans in California were opposed to the bill as well as Safari Club International, California Outdoor Heritage Alliance, California Houndsmen for Conservation, and the National Shooting Sports Foundation.