SACRAMENTO — Legislation that would ban the use of hounds to hunt black bears and bobcats, S.B. 1221, was passed out of committee on April 25 by a 5-3 vote with one abstention, despite a huge showing of hunters and sportsmen who spoke against the bill.
An estimated 600 to 800 hunters and houndsmen showed up at the hearing, filling the hearing room first, then a second hearing room, then spilling into the hallway. An estimated 60 or 70 anti-hunters appeared to speak for the bill.
Despite eloquent and polite arguments against the bill by hundreds of sportsmen, they were unable to convince members of the Natural Resources Committee that the bill was unnecessary and a product of political revenge. The committee approved SB 1221 by a 5 to 3 vote with one abstention.
The bill, which is sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the nations largest anti-hunting group, triggered an outpouring of opposition from California sportsmen, sportsmen’s organizations in the state, California Outdoor Heritage Alliance (COHA) and on a national level the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA).
Well more than 600 opponents sporting orange NO on SB 1221 buttons packed the committee room and the corridors of the capital to make sure their Senators knew where they stood.
“It is unbelievable that the members of this committee ignored the thousands of calls, emails and letters along with the dedicated sportsmen and women who took off work to be here today to oppose this unfair and unjustified attack on California hunters," said Evan Heusinkveld, USSA’s director of state services. “But we are not giving up. We are prepared to make our case to the full Senate.”
The California Houndsmen for Conservation, the state's leading hound-hunting group, decried the measure, which is being pushed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). “This bill has no merit, is founded on misconceptions that are promoted with propaganda'' and is not something lawmakers should spend time on, president of the Houndsmen, Josh Brones said.
California Outdoor Heritage Alliance (COHA) has been working with the Masters of Foxhounds Association, California Houndsmen for Conservation and USSA to defeat SB 1221.
Even though SB 1221 cleared the first legislative hurdle, the bill has a long way to go before it becomes law. The next hearing — and opportunity for hunters to voice their opinion — will take place in the next two weeks in the Senate Committee on Appropriations.
It is critical that members of the Senate Committee on Appropriations hear from you. Call and write to each committee member TODAY! For a sample opposition letter and Legislator contact information, go to the COHA website at www.outdoorheritage.org/.
SPORTSMEN PACKED the Capitol for the Senate Natural Resources Committee hearing on SB 1221, the anti-dog hunting bill, in what was termed "the largest outpouring of citizens I've seen in 20 years at the State Capitol," according to Bill Gaines, President of California Outdoor Heritage Alliance. The committee passed the measure, despite the widespread and visual opposition.