Supervisors support bill to reinstate hunting with hounds

David Smith, GateHouse California
Siskiyou houndsman Walt Bartlett pleads his case for the board of supervisors' sponsorship of a hunting hound bill.

With state law outlawing the use of hounds for hunting bears and bobcats, the Siskiyou Houndsmen and Sportsmen group is mobilizing to get the decision out of Sacramento and into the hands of local governments.

Sherrie Peery of the SHS brought an agenda item before the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors Tuesday to request the board write a letter supporting California’s Assembly Bill 2205 and possibly join on as a co-sponsor of the bill.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly’s AB 2205 would repeal the current prohibitions on hunting with hounds, requiring that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife prepare a report each year on the status of bear populations, depredation permit requests and economic impacts of bear damage, along with recommendations for the state’s fish and game commission. The use of hounds to hunt bears outside of the specified hunting season – in order to reduce predation or resolve human-bear conflicts – could then be approved by a county’s board of supervisors.

By eliminating the overall prohibition on the use of hounds for hunting, the law would reinstate a bear hunting season. It would also repeal the California Fish and Game Commission’s authority to require the licensing of hunting hounds.

Siskiyou Houndsmen representative Walt Bartlett pleaded his case before the board, referencing his years of hunting with hounds as an appeal for the board’s support.

“It’s not a point of killing everything,” Bartlett said, explaining that in 40 years of hunting with hounds, he has killed approximately 10 bears.

He added that he does not want to leave California due to the restriction on hunting with hounds, but that he would consider it if the law does not change.

After hearing Bartlett’s input, the board voted to send correspondence asking for regional representatives to co-author AB 2205, and seek co-sponsorship for the county.