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September 26, 2012

Victory: California Gov. Brown Signs Bill to End Hounding of Bears and Bobcats

I just learned that Gov. Jerry Brown this afternoon has signed S.B. 1221 into law–to ban the unsporting and inhumane practice of hound hunting of black bears and bobcats in California. I am so thankful to the governor for his support, and grateful to the 68 California Assembly and Senate members who backed the bill, especially to the extraordinary duo of Ted Lieu and President pro tem Darrell Steinberg–our two leaders in the state Senate who were masterful at every turn in advocating for the bill, answering the critics, and helping to gather up the votes from colleagues who respect them so much. 

Of course, this type of support from elected officials would not have happened but for the broad public support for The HSUS and our worldview. Nothing like this happens without an active and engaged constituency who write letters, send emails, make phone calls, attend hearings, talk to neighbors, and do the hard, persistent work required to achieve meaningful social reform. Special thanks to our entire team at The HSUS who worked so hard, especially to Jennifer Fearing, our California senior state director who was so determined and strategic in lobbying the bill from beginning to end in Sacramento.

Hound puppy
The HSUS

This was a tough fight, with The HSUS and our organizational allies battling the NRA, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, the California Houndsmen for Conservation, and every other major player in the hunting lobby. Every step in this process–through each committee, to the Assembly floor, and twice to the Senate floor–was difficult and nerve-wracking, but we cleared every hurdle. It’s especially sweet for me because I’ve been wishing for this day now for 20 years, since I first starting working on this issue as a very young man in 1989. It’s been a long time coming, but it shows that persistence pays off.

It was the publishing in early February this year of a grisly photo of his mountain lion kill in Idaho by the then-president of the California Fish and Game Commission that thrust the issue of hounding into the spotlight. The photo came to light after it was published in a hunting newspaper, and it prompted The HSUS to talk to Sen. Lieu about taking care of this unfinished business. It was hardly a new issue for us, since we’ve fought the hunting lobby on this in Colorado, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, and other states to end this form of wildlife cruelty.

Today it is so satisfying to see representative government work, and to have lawmakers and Gov. Brown heed the will of the people in California and to protect these dogs, bears, and bobcats from this abuse.

All animal advocates should let out a roar of approval to Gov. Brown. And you should all relish this evidence of progress for our cause. It’s an exciting moment.

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