Gov. Brown does good with lead-ammo ban, bobcat protection
California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law AB 1213, the Bobcat Protection Bill, which will set a no-trapping buffer zone around Joshua Tree National Park and other parks where bobcats are protected year-round. He also signed AB 711, which bans lead ammunition on hunting grounds in California.
Both measures will go a long way toward protecting wild animals that need to be protected, and without significantly encroaching on hunters. These pieces of legislation don’t change hunting seasons or quotas. They are just smart and reasonable new laws, and it’s heartening to see the governor support them and make them law — although both were controversial enough that the governor felt he needed to explain himself.
In a signing message on AB 711, by Assembly member Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood), Brown acknowledged what scientists, not just animal advocates, have been saying for years: Lead is poisonous to every living thing. It’s banned in numerous products. (In fact, one group of researchers says lead ammunition is, perhaps, the least regulated source of lead around.) When wildlife scavenge off carcasses of animals shot with lead ammunition, they end up poisoned.
“I am concerned, however, the impression left from this bill is that hunters and sportsmen and women in California are not conservationists. I know that is not the case. Hunters and anglers are the original conservationists,” the governor wrote.
That is certainly historically true. And there are hunters today who are also concerned with wildlife conservation. But I find it troubling and not very conservation-minded when hunters balk at reasonable changes to their sport — like having to switch to non-lead ammo. There is nothing onerous about that. The governor notes that he approved the bill because, among other accommodations to hunters, it includes a lengthy transition time — five years — for the law to go into effect. I certainly wish it went into effect sooner, but the important thing is that it will eventually.
Nor is there anything conservation-minded about bobcat trappers who set scented lures in traps right outside Joshua Tree National Park to easily entice bobcats out of the park, where such trapping is prohibited, and off wildlife corridors where the state intends for them to be protected.
In signing AB 1213, by Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), Brown wrote that he was also directing the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the state’s Commission on Fish and Game to survey the bobcat population (which hasn’t been counted since the 1970s) and also set limits on the number of bobcats trappers can take. Currently, trappers, who are selling the pelts, can kill as many bobcats as they want during hunting season. A limit on their take would probably be prudent.
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