Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a bill that will ban the hunting of bears and bobcats with hounds starting on January 1.
The new law came after negative media coverage of the practice and a huge push from a coalition of animal rights activists and Democrats, led by Senator Ted Lieu. They called the practice archaic and cruel. The bill was also backed by several celebrities, including Ellen De Generes, Doris Day, Bill Maher and Hilary Duff.
In September, an article in the Los Angeles Times summed up the practice this way:
“Dogs chasing bears until they are exhausted and terrified and forced up a tree is widely considered cruel, kind of a ‘Hunger Games’ for bears. Is it easier for hunters to find and shoot a bear clinging to a tree while dogs bay at it from the ground? Sure it is. In fact, it’s close to canned hunting -- in which game animals are corralled into a fenced area waiting to be killed -- a practice mostly prohibited in California.”
Every year in California, hunters can legally “harvest” 1,700 American black bears out of an estimated population of between 23,000 and 39,000 individuals. Almost half of kills are made with the help of dogs.
Although the same numbers of bears will be able to be killed under the new provision, hunters will not be able to use dogs in the chase.