It’s easy to understand why California houndsmen are up in arms. But what you might not know is why it should matter to sportsmen in the other 49 states. This fight is our fight too, and here is why:I have never hunted with hounds. But today I am a hound hunter because each of the arguments the anti-hunting lobby is using against the houndsmen could just as easily be used against you and I.The Top Lies Being Told:1) It’s Unsporting to use Hounds to Chase Bears:This should pique the interest of every pheasant hunter, duck hunter, foxhunter and more. The anti’s are running around Sacramento telling legislators that it’s inhumane to allow a dog to chase a bear – they say it isn’t fair chase. In reality, there is NO difference between using a hound to track a bear’s scent and using a bird-dog to follow a pheasant/grouse/quail. If it’s inhumane for bears – what’s next? Pheasants? Fox? Coyotes? Raccoons? The truth is – they think all hunting with dogs is bad.2) Inhumane to Shoot a Bear at Close Distance:This flies right in the face of everything sportsmen are taught. Hunter Education teaches us to take responsible, ethical shots. To work to get the best shot possible. If it’s inhumane to shoot a bear at close distance – what about a turkey or a deer? The close distance allows the hunter to age, sex, and determine if the bear has cubs all prior to taking a shot. Don’t be confused. They would oppose bear hunting if you shot the bear at 200 yards. It’s not the distance they oppose, that’s just the crutch (read: LIE) they are using. They oppose ALL hunting.3) Misleading Facts – The Number of States That Allow Hound Hunting:The bill’s author likes to point out that 2/3rds of the U.S. doesn’t allow bear hunting with hounds. That’s a nice sound bite, but the truth of the matter is 18 states don’t even have a huntable population of bears! Of the 32 states that hunt bear, 18 allow the use of dogs – nearly 60%. Of the states with more than 2,000 bears – 16 of 23 allow you to use dogs – 70%. The anti’s argument would be akin to arguing for a ban on elk hunting in California because Ohio doesn’t allow it (Nevermind the fact that Ohio doesn’t have Elk!).4) Pictures – GPS collarsThis one is another favorite of the animal rights lobby. In California, they are sending packets of information to each legislators’ office that include things they claim are unsightly deeds such as dogs wearing GPS collars, which they claim prevents bear hunting from being a fair chase. What they don’t tell you, is that GPS collars are already ILLEGAL in California. The pictures they are using are from another state all-together.5) Houndsmen and Bear Hunters Are Just “Trophy Hunting”This one should be no surprise to any hunter. They claim the only reason we hunt is for the trophy. When in fact, the reasons for hunting are much more complex – see The Grim Hunter. But in California, they are telling legislators that bear hunters shoot the bear and leave the meat to rot. Sportsmen know the truth. There are already wildlife laws in California on the books that require sportsmen to take the bear meat – that truth just doesn’t fit into the anti’s agenda.6) Cruel and Inhumane When Hunting. Sound Science When Used For ResearchThis one is a favorite of mine. In California, the anti’s are saying that it’s cruel and inhumane to use hounds– but their bill allows the Department of Fish and Game to do it. In addition, when these same hunters volunteer their time, dogs, etc. to help capture a mountain lion or a bear for research it’s called sound science. For more than 40 years, the use of hounds has been used by private foundations, universities and wildlife agencies safely and humanely. The truth is there is no difference between treeing a bear for hunting or for research.Each of these lies can, and likely will, be used against sportsmen again in the near future. It may be in Florida, or Texas, or Pennsylvania… we can’t predict where. But if they are able to get away with these lies now, they’ll surely be used again. Sportsmen must stand together to defeat this bill – because after all we know their real agenda is the end of ALL hunting. If these lies are successful in California, be sure they will find their way to your state soon.
Voters in the state of Maine voted down such a ballot initiative in 2004. Hard to say whether hunting has enough support in California to defeat this bill in the state Assembly.