Jerry Brown Stops “Hounding” in Its Tracks

Governor signs ban on use of dogs when hunting bears and bobcats

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 It wasn't the biggest or most important issue at the Capitol this year, but it certainly was one of the noisiest and most emotional. 

This week, Gov. Jerry Brown cast his lot with animal rights groups, signing a bill to stop the use of pack dogs by hunters pursuing bears and bobcats.

Senate Bill 1221, from Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, takes effect in January.

"There is nothing sporting in shooting an exhausted bear clinging to a tree limb or a cornered bobcat," Lieu said.

The bill, signed Wednesday, was sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States. Spokeswoman Jennifer Fearing praised Lieu via Twitter "for his humane leadership."

Brown himself offered no comment, letting his signature on the bill do the talking. But there's been plenty of comment -- mostly arguing -- in recent months. 

Hunters maintained that this was an attack on a sport by urban groups. They packed committee rooms at the Capitol this summer, where they clashed with animal rights activists who said the practice was cruel to both dogs and their prey.

In a statement, the California Houndsmen for Conservation said, "The use of hounds is the oldest, most fundamental and most natural form of hunting."

The issue took on an even higher profile in light of the controversy over Daniel Richards, the former president of the California Fish and Game Commission. Richards was forced to step down after photos surfaced of him holding a mountain lion he had killed in Idaho. Hunting mountain lions is banned in California.

So the hunters found themselves treed as a result of this legislative and PR war. 

Come January, they'll have to try another state.

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