SANTA BARBARA INDEPENDENT: Hound Hunting

June 08, 2012

By Lisa Acho Remorenko

A recent survey revealed that 83 percent of Californians oppose the practice of hounding—the inhumane and unsporting practices of using dogs to hunt down bear and bobcats. If you’re one of the 83 percent, then Lobby day on Tuesday, June 12 in Sacramento is a great time to make a difference for California’s bears, bobcats, and dogs.

The Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA, and several California humane organizations are looking for animal advocates to help speak up in favor of Senate Bill 1221, which will prohibit the cruel and inhumane “hounding” of bears and bobcats with packs of dogs.

Last month, the California Senate voted 22 to 15 in favor of passing SB 1221 to end hounding. The legislation, SB 1221, authored by Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) and co-authored by Senate president pro tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) now advances to the state Assembly with widespread public support. According to Senator Lieu: “California has a long history of protecting its resources and protecting animal welfare. The practice of hound hunting often leads to them being injured, lost or killed and their continued use runs counters to California’s reputation as a humane state. Hound hunting of bears is illegal in two-thirds of the United States; the time has come for California to abolish this inhumane and unnecessary practice.”

According to the Mount Shasta Herald, each year the bear season begins on the first day of deer hunting season, allowing hunters to use one dog per person until the end of the deer season. After deer season ends and the regular bear season begins, bear hunters are allowed to use packs of dogs to track and tree the animals.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), states that hound hunters use packs of dogs—sometimes 40 or more—to chase bears, bobcats, cougars, deer, or other animals until they try to climb a tree, or until the dogs catch them and tear them apart. The hunting dogs themselves are frequently injured or killed during the hunt. Hunters usually fit the dogs’ collars with GPS or radio telemetry devices so that they don’t even have to keep up with the chase—they can relax while the dogs do the work. With dogs after them, bears and cougars may not meekly scamper up a tree, but may fight back. A single swipe from a bear can wound or kill a dog. The HSUS says that hunters often treat the dogs like hunting equipment rather than family members. When dogs don’t hunt well or get old, sick, injured, or pregnant, some hunters shoot them or abandon them to starve.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS says: “It is an archaic and unacceptable practice to allow dogs to harass and chase bears for miles and then to finish the animal off by shooting the tired and frightened animal out of a tree. This was a vote for mercy and decency.”

Sadly, even though 83 percent of Californians oppose hound hunting, the rest of the country may not. A web search on “hound hunting” resulted in over 7 million results, the majority of them pro-hound hunting, with you tube videos showing hunts, websites dedicated to hound hunters, and hound hunting puppies for sale. Fourteen states—including Montana, Colorado, Washington, Pennsylvania, and Oregon—allow bear hunting but prohibit hounding. If you are opposed to hound hunting, Sacramento needs to hear your voice. For more information on attending Lobby day, visit action.humanesociety.org