The City Council on Tuesday voted 5-0 to reinstate a bow-hunting ban,
even though officials with the state Department of Fish and Game
contend the ordinance is unconstitutional.
A ban on bow-and-arrow hunting in the city’s stretch of the
Verdugo Mountains went into effect in January, but was put on hold
March 4 after opponents charged the city should have first completed
an environmental impact study. City staff has since finished the
study, and found the ban would not affect deer populations.
Now that the council has voted to reinstate the ban, the city
could face a legal challenge from the Department of Fish and Game. In
a letter to city officials, Fish and Game general counsel Michael
Valentine said the ban was unconstitutional because it infringes on
the department’s authority to regulate hunting throughout the state.
In a memo to the council, Assistant City Atty. Mary Riley said the
ban is constitutional because the city has the authority to pass
regulations to protect public health and safety. But Fish and Game
officials said in the 20 years they have recorded statistics, there
have been no reports of injuries caused by bow-hunting in the Burbank
“We’ve been given no information to support the idea that it’s a
health and safety risk in those areas,” Valentine said.
Councilman Jef Vander Borght said even though there have been no
injuries as a result of bow hunting, the increasing number of hikers
in the area increases the potential for such an incident.
“If we don’t have this restriction, something is likely to happen
in the future,” he said prior to the council meeting.
Vander Borght also said he agreed with the assessment by city
staff that the city is within its jurisdiction to pass the ordinance
in the interest of public safety.
Burbank is unique in that bowhunting areas are contained within
city limits, Fish and Game Assistant Chief Joe Gonzales said. While
he was unaware of any other city that has tried to enact such an
ordinance in relation to bow-hunting, Gonzales said bans on trapping
in several northern California cities have been successfully
challenged by the department.
Fish and Game officials planned to wait until the city took action
on the issue before discussing the possibility of legal action,
“I hoped they would at least revisit the issue and consider the
case law we referred to in hopes we could work something out prior to
any legal ramifications,” he said.