SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Animal rights groups are upset with hunters who use dogs to track bears and bobcats, and some state lawmakers are joining their fight.
But those who support the practice say the protesters are barking up the wrong tree.
Josh Brones is president of the California Houndsmen for Conservation. They’re trying to preserve a centuries-old tradition using dogs to help hunt bears and bobcats.
“The interactions between the hound and bears can traced back to the origins of the species,” he said.
But now they’re now becoming the hunted.
The Humane Society of the United States and its supporters at the state Capitol protested on Tuesday, calling the act barbaric.
Leading the hunt to outlaw it is state Senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrance). He authored a Senate bill that would prohibit the “hounding” of bears and bobcats.
“It’s really not necessary and it’s inhumane,” Lieu said.
The Humane Society says it can even lead to criminal activity, such as poaching bear cubs and bobcat kittens, selling animal parts on the black market, and they say some houndsmen are connected to drug activity.
Lieu says California is better than that.
“California is a humane state,” he said. “I want California to be as humane as Montana was in 1921 when that state banned this practice.”
Brones calls the allegations skewed propaganda by urban politicians who don’t understand the culture and traditions of rural Californians. He says lawmakers are targeting the wrong issues.
“I don’t think there’s any factual basis for those allegations,” he said. “I would say the attention of Senator Lieu and the rest of our legislators would be better spent putting our people back to work, putting people back into their homes, putting felons back into prison rather than worrying whether or not dogs should be used to attempt to put a bear and bobcat up a tree.”
The bill is now in the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, and that committee is expected to make a decision June 26 on whether to advance the bill.