A bill that would have banned the use of dogs in hunting bears and bobcats has been amended to provide some exemptions. But the two sides in this hotly contested issue remain firmly in opposite camps, with the Humane Society saying the bill will protect many animals and hunters saying it's an unfair attack on their lifestyle.
Amendments to Senate Bill 1221 by Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, allow for three circumstances when it would be OK for hounds to pursue bears and bobcats: in conducting wildlife research, when a permit has been issued to kill an animal causing a nuisance, and if an animal unintentionally comes onto private property where the owner has a dog.
"These exemptions only apply to some narrow cases," said the Humane Society's Jennifer Fearing. "The vast majority of hounding would be prohibited, which is our goal."
California Houndsmen for Conservation -- the group that has filled the Capitol with hundreds of protesters with orange shirts and signs opposing the bill -- isn't giving up. Josh Brones, the group's president, said the exemptions are burdensome and hypocritical. He said he expects the Assembly to approve the bill but still thinks he can kill it when it returns to the Senate or hits the governor's desk.
"This is our way of life," Brones said. "We're not going to die without a fight."
PHOTO CREDIT: Sequoia, 3, left, and Tanner, 6, lead the way as Josh Brones, 37, of Wilton follows during a hunt for bobcats in Glenn County recently. Randy Pench/The Sacramento Bee