Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield ruffled feathers and was blasted by Republicans on the Assembly floor Wednesday for describing a situation in which a hunter sits drinking a beer while hounds chase a bear or bobcat to exhaustion.
The Woodland Hills Democrat later apologized to colleagues, saying the thrust of his comment was not about hunters but about a form of hunting that he feels deserves to be banned.
The flap occurred during debate on Senate Bill 1221, ultimately passed by the Assembly, to ban use of dogs in hunting bear or bobcat.
The fiercely contested bill, which now goes to the Senate for concurrence in amendments, includes exceptions for scientific research, responding to a nuisance, or defending crops or livestock.
Blumenfield, introducing SB 1221 on the Assembly floor, said that current law creates situations in which hunters have little or nothing to do while their hounds chase bear or bobcat until the prey can run no more.
"While the hunter relaxes, perhaps opens a cold one, packs of dogs are released to chase the bears and bobcats to the point of exhaustion, a chase that can last more than three hours," Blumenfield said.
"The chase ends when the animals climb a tree to escape the baying hounds and the hunter saunters off to take an execution shot at close range."
Assembly Republicans Linda Halderman, Dan Logue and Brian Jones bristled at Blumenfield's characterization of hunters.
"I find that derisive and offensive," said Halderman, of Fresno. "You might as well have just said that my constituents are dumb rednecks. I don't appreciate it. The idea that my constituents would be so irresponsible as to mix alcohol with firearms is objectionable."
Logue, of Marysville, said he also was offended and that "I will stand with these hunters all day long. They're some of the best citizens in this state and in this country."
Jones, of Santee, called Blumenfield's introduction of SB 1221 "one of the most offensive opening statements that I've heard on this floor in the two years that I've been here."
"You've managed to offend Californians from the San Gabriel border to the Oregon border," he said.
Blumenfield, in closing statements before the Assembly vote, said that SB 1221 is not about the hunters and that "I know a lot of hunters that are good people." The bill is about a particular form of hunting that is "inhumane, savage and unnecessary, he said.
"I do apologize for suggesting that hunting and alcohol are mixed," Blumenfield added. "The point of that comment was not to deride hunters, the point was talking about the length of time" that bear and bobcat are chased before they are killed.
PHOTO CREDIT: Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Woodland Hills, in 2009. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.