Using Dogs to Hunt Bear Might Soon Be Against the Law

Two-thirds of California’s bear hunters use dogs wearing radio-transmitter collars. The dogs track a bear by scent and chase him up a tree. The hunter homes in and shoots the bear out of the tree.

A bill by state Sen. Nicholas Petris (D-Oakland) would outlaw that practice. But, his office emphasizes, the bill would not outlaw bear hunting without dogs--and the senator has no objection to bird hunting with dogs.

“Absolutely not,” said spokeswoman Amy Reynolds. “The senator is not anti-hunting.”

But the senator’s bill is sponsored by the Fund for Animals, which opposes sport hunting, so hunters fear the worst if SB 67 becomes law.


A hearing on the bill by the Senate Committee on Natural Resources last week was held over after several hours of testimony because representatives of the California Department of Fish and Game couldn’t satisfy the committee on certain points, including the number of bears in the state. Petris says the DFG “guesses there are about 15,000,” of which 1,237 and 1,441 have been taken by hunters in the last two years.

Terry Mansfield, chief of the DFG’s wildlife management division, thinks Petris’ bill might not make much difference.

“There is no justification for saying the bear population will increase if you don’t use dogs,” Mansfield said. “Hunting only removes bears that are going to die of other causes.”

Wayne Pacelle of the Fund for Animals said: “That’s been the DFG’s theory all along. You could say it’s the same for humans.”


Then there is AB 380 by Assemblyman Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica), whose bill would ban bobcat hunting. The Fund for Animals is more ambivalent on that one. There is no scarcity of bobcats and, like coyotes, they’re non-game animals, anyway. According to Mansfield, trappers and a few hunters took only 1,502 of the state’s estimated 70,000 bobcats last year.

Of course, all of the numbers miss the point.

“This isn’t a biological issue,” Mansfield said. “It’s a societal value issue.”


FRESHWATER FISHING--The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has directed budget cutbacks that could require Castaic Lake to remain closed daily until 10 a.m., after the prime-time bite. That and other possibilities were outlined to concerned anglers at a briefing in Castaic on Tuesday night. The lake’s popularity--primarily for trophy-sized largemouth bass--has never been higher, drawing anglers from across the country. But over the past several months the payroll has been reduced from 150 to 40 full- and part-time employees. Now, the county has directed further cuts of from 8% to 25%, which will further reduce personnel to manage the lake. Currently, anglers may enter at dawn and must exit by dusk. One alternative to shorter hours is to close the lake on certain weekdays, the way San Diego manages its seven city lakes. “But they don’t get the same kind of user we do,” said Brian Roney, assistant park superintendent for the lake. “A lot of their lakes are more remote.” Castaic is on Interstate 5, less than an hour from downtown Los Angeles. Some regulars fish before going to work. . . . The DFG will explain its new Upper Kern River fishery management plan at public hearings Saturday in Bakersfield and April 7 in Kernville. Locals fear the plan, which is endorsed by Trout Unlimited, will recommend the end of trout plants upriver from Lake Isabella. Jack Dempsey, owner of Sierra Sporting Goods at Kernville, said: “You have a small special interest group of 30,000 (fly-fishermen) but there are millions of other fishermen that this is going to hurt.” Comments may be called in to (209) 635-1941 or mailed before May 5 to Stan Stephens, California Department of Fish and Game, 3816 Mineral King, Visalia, CA 93291.

MEXICAN FISHING--San Diego long-range: Instructor Ronnie Kovach scored big with a boatload of beginners on a 2 1/2-day seminar trip to San Martin Island 150 miles south of San Diego. Although Kovach described 20 of the 27 as “rank novices,” they collected more than 160 yellowtail from 8 to 23 pounds, yo-yoing iron jigs at 90 feet. “In 39 years, I’d never seen it as good,” Kovach said. Cabo San Lucas: With strong winds and rough water, a 412-pound blue topped an otherwise slow week for marlin. Yellowfin tuna, 10-120 pounds, abundant at Jaime Bank. East Cape: Weather calm and yellowtail abundant but not biting.

FISHING INSTRUCTION--Free flycasting classes for beginners, with a fishing trip at the end, are offered by the Long Beach Casting Club on the next six Tuesdays, 7 p.m., at Recreation Park. Details: (310) 493-2196. . . . Gary Tomovich will conduct “Introduction to Fly Fishing” April 13 and 20, 7-10 p.m., at Classes Unlimited in Sherman Oaks. Fee is $55. Details: (213) 254-7451. . . . Shimano is offering marlin fishing seminars April 8 and 15, 7:30 p.m., at the Lakewood Country Club, 3101 Carson St. to benefit United Anglers of California. Space limited. Cost is $50. Details: (714) 951-5003, ext. 215.

SHOWTIME--The Federation of Fly Fishers hosts “Angling Adventures” at the Long Beach Arena on Saturday and Sunday. Presentations will include Poul Jorgensen on fly tying, Terry Gunn on saltwater, Wendy Hanvold on Lee’s Ferry, Greg Lilly on Montana and Lani Waller on steelhead. Hours: 8:30-5 Saturday, 8-4 Sunday. Admission is $15 for individuals and $18 for families for both days, $12 and $15 for Sunday only.


SALTWATER FISHING--The Isle of Redondo, the only open-water fishing barge on the West Coast, opens its season Friday. Details: (310) 372-2111.

HUNTING/SHOOTING--Quillen’s Rising Star, a female English pointer co-owned by C.F. (Wally) Wallace of Redlands and Bob Carroll of Florence, Ala., won the 94th national bird dog championships at the Ames Plantation in Tennessee. . . . The Glock Sport Shooting Foundation will conduct a Steel Challenge regional match Saturday and Sunday at Piru. Details: (404) 319-4773.