Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 1221 on Sept. 26 to using dogs to pursue bears and bobcats illegal. The DFG has gotten a lot of questions from the public regarding what effects it may cause. Below are some of those frequently asked questions and answers:
Does SB 1221 affect the current bear hunting season?
No. The new law will not go into effect until Jan. 1. The 2012 bear hunting season closes on Dec. 30, 2012, or when the DFG determines that 1,700 bears have been taken, whichever occurs first.
What will be the effect on the bear population?
The DFG does not believe this law will negatively affect the state's black bear population. Any increase or decrease in the overall bear population will likely be reflective of bear habitat, since habitat quantity and quality have more impact on the bear population than current hunting effort.
Will I be able to surrender and get a refund on my bear or bobcat tag(s)?
No. Hunters are able to hunt bears and bobcats with dogs through the end of the current season, or until Jan. 1, whichever occurs first. After that, hunters retain the ability to take those species during open seasons without using dogs.
Will officers kill my livestock guard dog if it inadvertently chases a bobcat or bear?
This law applies specifically to taking bear and bobcat during regulated hunting seasons. Current laws allow for the protection of game mammals during the closed season. If a livestock dog were to attempt to take a bear or bobcat during the open season, it would be considered an unlawful method of take and appropriate enforcement action would be pursued.
While these laws allow for the capture or killing of dogs inflicting injury to certain mammals, DFG staff rarely have used this authority. The DFG does not expect this law to result in an increase in incidents involving the killing or capture of livestock guard dogs.
Will the DFG still meet its bear hunting season quota of 1,700?
The 1,700 bear harvest cap is not technically a "quota." The DFG does not target a specific number of bears to be killed each hunting season. This harvest cap exists because the Fish and Game Commission has determined the bear population and the environment will not be negatively affected at this level of take.
In the past 10 years, this cap has been met only three times. The DFG will continue to collect data and information on the bear population. From the data, we will develop information for population trends and propose tag and take levels to the Fish and Game Commission consistent with the DFG's Black Bear Management Plan.
Where can I find a copy of SB 1221?
Go to http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/, and do a quick search (top right-hand corner) for SB 1221 next to Bill Number.
Question: There is a video floating around of a local captain offering advice on how to get rid of pesky gulls. He ties sardines (no hooks) to each end of some monofilament line, then explains that one gull will grab the bait, and then all the others will follow.
Is that legal? Seems like birds could get tangled up and die. Introducing mono into the sea also seems to be dangerous to the creatures there. Is this practice acceptable?
Answer: No, this practice is not legal. Intentionally putting monofilament line into the water is littering. It is also harassment of animals, which is prohibited by Title 14 of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife codes. This provision defines harassment as an "intentional act which disrupts the animal's normal behavioral patterns, which includes but is not limited to breeding, feeding or sheltering." From what you describe, the whole point is to disrupt the gulls' normal behavioral patterns.
Q: If I'm in the field upland bird hunting and a flock of ducks/geese fly overhead, am I allowed to shoot those birds, too?
A: Yes, but only if the season for waterfowl is open in the area, if you have the required state and federal waterfowl stamps affixed to your license, and you only have steel or other non-toxic shot in your possession.