SCI HUNTER ALERT – Anti-Hunting Groups Push for Control In California!
Safari Club International has been working closely with our colleagues in California to address the push from anti-hunting entities such as Humane Society United States (HSUS) to ramrod their agenda through the California Fish and Game Commission.
The California Fish and Game Commission meeting was held on April 16, 2014.
California hunters were urged to attend all commission and committee meetings to preserve traditional hunting in California. As a show of solidarity, hunters were asked to wear “hunter orange” for every meeting.
Action Items of Particular Interest:
The decision of whether or not to list gray wolf as a threatened/endangered species (Fish and Game Code Sections 2075 and 2075.5) – Currently, there are no Gray Wolves in California, but the department thinks it is worthwhile for the commission to consider listing them as a threatened or endangered species as the range of the wolves in other states is expanding and there is a good likelihood that a breeding population could be established in the state at some future time.
Discussion and possible authorization to publish notice of intent to establish a prohibition on inducements for predator hunting contests, tournaments or derbies – This subject was placed on the commission agenda at the February 5th meeting as a result of “public requests” (HSUS and Project Coyote). The subject was a hotly debated discussion item at the first Wildlife Resources Committee (WRC) meeting on January 15th. HSUS outlined a whole rewrite of the “predator management policy.” The committee did not have any process outlined and stakeholders, particularly those in the hunting arena, felt disenfranchised from the process.
As a result, Safari Club International filed a Public Records Act Request (PRAR) to learn how this proposal was elevated at this first committee and how an HSUS lobbyist was at the helm of the conversation. There was no conclusion reached at that first meeting.
When the discussion of the process for this committee was brought before the full commission meeting, Item #3 emerged out of the document as a stand-alone item for the Commission agenda. There are no commission documents on this subject available to the public for review prior to the hearing.
The banning of predator hunting competitions has been characterized by anti-hunting advocates to be the next major step after the enactment of SB 1221 (Chapter 595, Statutes of 2012) that bans the use of dogs to hunt bears and bobcats. Their stated goal is to eventually stop all hunting and other forms of taking wildlife!
The current focus on stopping predator hunting competitions was initiated by animal rights activists in response to such competitions in northern California where agriculture has reportedly encouraged the contests to help control the livestock depredating coyote population. The goal of the ban’s supporters is to stop all such competitions statewide! No doubt, fishing derbies would be next!
HSUS volunteers have also been providing WRC with a series of other recommendations on “needed” changes to the management of predators in the state, as well as recommendations concerning the use of dogs in hunting. They want to first stop the use of dogs for hunting predators and then to expand the hunting dog ban to the taking of all game species!
This item on the commission’s April 16th agenda is officially an informational discussion only and there is no formally proposed regulation currently under consideration. However, as a result of the hearing, the commission may direct the Department of Fish and Wildlife to prepare one.
If the commission decides to take action, it appears that it may be necessary to first pass enabling legislation to give the commission statutory authority before it can adopt regulations banning predator- hunting contests. Hunters should be prepared to fight this battle on both the commission and the legislative fronts!!
HSUS has introduced legislation awaiting the commission action to implement what they hope would be a ban on competitions. That bill is AB 2210 (Williams) Nongame mammals: depredators. (Please note that Assembly member Williams’ contact information is available by clicking on his name if you want to let him know of your concerns about AB 2210.)
TAKE ACTION! Voice your opposition to ANY changes to predator hunting competitions.
These policy actions, if successful, would be major steps towards eliminating our very heritage as hunters and end the passing on of our hunting traditions to future generations!
In addition to the most immediate agenda item concerns, SCI is tracking the following issues…
The adoption of proposed changes to mammal hunting regulations (Sections 360, 361, 362, 363, and 364, Title 14, CCR) – No major policy changes are proposed. The purpose of this item is to adjust tag quotas, if necessary, according to the results of the department’s annual spring big game census survey. We will keep you informed of the results of this survey and any significant changes to the tag quotas.
Receipt and discussion of draft policy for native plants. This is being monitored carefully because of the nexus to wild pig management and their impact on native plants. This has been elevated to a discussion item in the Legislature.
Wildlife Resources Committee – next meeting, May 7, 2014 (Hiram W. Johnson State Office Building, 465 Golden Gate Avenue, San Diego Room A/B/C, San Francisco). Commissioners Jim Kellogg and Jack Baylis are co-chairs of this committee.
We anticipate that both the predator management policy and lead ammunition will be under the purview of this committee who met last on January 15 in Van Nuys. Among items on the agenda were recommendations from the predator subcommittee and how to implement non-lead ammunition requirements (AB 711).
It is critical we have participation from hunters at these meetings. We are also requesting that they hold meetings in locations where hunting occurs and economic impacts are felt. Meetings are scheduled this year in Van Nuys, San Francisco, and Sacramento only.
Also on the agenda is a review of the process for public petitions for regulation change. SCI challenged the legal basis for reopening the predator management policy. We need to watch this carefully, as HSUS and Project Coyote are using this in an attempt to make anti-hunting changes.
Fish and Game Commission – Ethics
A request was filed in December by NSSF for an investigation into possible conflict of interest on the part of Michael Sutton, President of the California Fish and Game Commission. After being appointed to the Commission in 2007, Mr. Sutton accepted a position as Executive Director and Vice President of Pacific Flyway with Audubon California. They were the co-sponsor of the lead ban and in his capacity as President of the Commission would be implementing the regulations. The request asked the California Attorney General to open an investigation into whether Mr. Sutton has violated any state laws or policies concerning his private and public positions. The Attorney General responded in mid-February, declining the request for an investigation. Another request for investigation into possible conflict of interest has been sent to the Senate Legislative Ethics Committee. Action is pending in the Legislature on ethics reforms due to on-going scandals and corruption.
Membership of the Fish and Game Commission
The California Fish and Game Commission currently includes five members:
Michael Sutton, President – his term began on May 4, 2007; his current term expires on January 15, 2015
Richard B. Rogers, Vice President – his term expired on January 15, 2011; he can serve until the governor makes a new appointment
Jim Kellogg, Member – his term began on January 1, 2002; his current term expires on January 15, 2018. Mr. Kellogg was recently reconfirmed by the Senate.
Jack Baylis – Member – his term began on September 29, 2010 and expires on January 15, 2016
Jacque Hostler-Carmesin – Ms. Hostler-Carmesin was appointed on June 4, 2014 and expires on January 15, 2019. Her appointment has not yet been scheduled for hearing by the Senate Rules Committee; a hearing date may be scheduled before the end of April.
IMPORTANT DATES TO CALENDAR – 2014
May 7 Wildlife Resources Committee Meeting, San Francisco, CA
June 4 Fish and Game Commission Meeting, Fortuna, CA
August 6 Fish and Game Commission Meeting, San Diego, CA
September 17 Wildlife Resources Committee Meeting, Sacramento, CA
October 8 Fish and Game Commission Meeting, Mount Shasta, CA
October 9 Joint Meeting with Oregon Fish and Wildlife, Central Point, OR
December 3 Fish and Game Commission Meeting, Los Angeles, CA