In late August, the California Senate gave final approval to legislation authored by state senator Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, to stop the inhumane and unsporting practice of hounding bears and bobcats. For a variety of reasons, California had long withstood the trend in the West to outlaw this inhumane form of hunting; Colorado, Oregon, and Washington banned the practice in the 1990s (along with bear baiting), even as California lawmakers and voters enacted a bevy of animal protection statutes to make their state the most animal-friendly in the nation based on a wide range of policies. So I’m truly pleased to see that the days for hounding in California are numbered, especially if Gov. Jerry Brown signs S.B. 1221 within the next week.
Much of the discussion from The HSUS and others backers of the bill has focused on how unfair the final act is—a hunter, using a large pack of dogs and radio telemetry equipment to drive and corner a bear upon a tree limb, kills the poor creature who has no pathway for escape.
But to me, what’s even worse than that terrible end is the constant harassment, fear, and terror that precedes it. A pack of 20 or so hounds may chase the bear for hours, and these large-bodied animals overheat and burn an enormous amount of calories. And, again, this says nothing of the fear they must feel as the dogs go after them in what amounts to a race for their survival.
Sometimes the bear turns and fights, or the dogs may overtake the quarry. Here’s footage of one hunt where the dogs caught up to the bear, and literally tore the animal up. I caution you, it’s very difficult to watch.
This footage reminds us what’s at stake for these animals. We are so often removed from the reality and detail of such abuse. And the apologists for this cruelty try to attach some social benefit to it, or to excuse it, or they try to soften what they do—in this case, by calling it “catch-and-release” hunting, because they don’t always kill the bear! They only shoot some of them, to be sure, but they terrorize all of them by setting the dogs upon them to chase them down.
If you haven’t contacted Gov. Brown, don’t wait any longer. This atrocious form of hunting must end, and you can do your part to see that California casts it aside as other states have already done.