The HSUS Applauds the California Senate’s Passage of Bill to Prohibit Bear and Bobcat “Hounding”

Inhumane practice is opposed by 83 percent of Californians, according to recent survey.

The Humane Society of the United States applauds the California Senate for voting 22 to 15 to end the inhumane and unsporting practices of using dogs to hunt down bear and bobcats – a practice known as “hounding.”  The legislation, S.B. 1221, authored by Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, and co-authored by Senate president pro tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, now advances to the state Assembly with widespread public support. Twenty Democrats and two Republicans favored the measure, and four Democrats and 11 Republicans opposed it. The bill will be assigned to the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee.

“With this very important vote, California is one step closer to ending the cruelty of bear and bobcat hounding,” said Jennifer Fearing, California senior state director. “We applaud Senators Ted Lieu and Darrell Steinberg and 20 of their Senate colleagues in standing together to rid California of this unacceptable method of trophy hunting.”

“The hound hunting of bears and bobcats is inhumane and unsporting,” added Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “It is an archaic and unacceptable practice to allow dogs to harass and chase bears for miles and then to finish the animal off by shooting the tired and frightened animal out of a tree. This was a vote for mercy and decency.”

“California has a long history of protecting its resources and protecting animal welfare,” said Sen. Lieu. “The practice of hound hunting often leads to them being injured, lost or killed and their continued use runs counters to California’s reputation as a humane state. Hound hunting of bears is illegal in two-thirds of the United States; the time has come for California to abolish this inhumane and unnecessary practice.”

Dogs are set upon frightened prey animals and often chase them for miles, across all types of habitat, including forests, private property, and into national parks. Dogs are fitted with high?tech radio devices that allow bear and bobcat houndsmen to follow the chasing dogs’ movement remotely. Once exhausted or cornered, prey animals either face the marauding dogs or seek refuge in a tree where they are typically shot at point-blank range.


  • Fourteen states—including Montana, Colorado, Washington, Pennsylvania and Oregon—allow bear hunting but prohibit hounding. Montana’s wildlife management officials consider prohibiting hounding a feature of the state’s “fair chase” principles.
  • Dogs can be struck by vehicles, die from dehydration or as a result of violent confrontations with wildlife, and many are abandoned, which puts a strain on local animal shelters.
  • Bears are very poor distance runners and may tire and be overtaken by the dog pack. In bobcat hounding, the bobcat may stop and attempt to confront the dog pack leading to possible injury and death from the conflict for both the dogs and bobcat.
  • S.B. 1221 is co-authored by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-6, Sens. Mark Leno, D-3, and Leland Yee, D-8, and Assemblymembers Toni Atkins, D-76, Bob Blumenfield, D-40, Mike Eng, D-49, Paul Fong, D-22, Anthony Portantino, D-44, Jose Solorio, D-69, and Das Williams, D-35.
  • Members voting in favor of S.B. 1221 were Elaine Alquist, D-13, Ron Calderon, D-30, Ellen Corbett, D-10, Kevin De Leon, D-22, Mark DeSaulnier, D-7, Bill Emmerson, R-37, Loni Hancock, D-9, Ed Hernandez, D-24, Christine Kehoe, D-39, Mark Leno, D-3, Ted Lieu, D-28, Carol Liu, D – 21, Alan Lowenthal, D-27, Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-32, Alex Padilla, D-20, Fran Pavley, D-23, Curren Price, D-26, Joe Simitian, D-11, Darrell Steinberg, D-6, Tony Strickland, R-19, Juan Vargas, D-40, and Leland Yee, D-8.
  • Members voting against S.B. 1221 were Joel Anderson, R-36, Tom Berryhill, R-14, Sam Blakeslee, R-15, Anthony Cannella, R-12, Bob Dutton, R-31, Noreen Evans, D-2, Jean Fuller, R-18, Ted Gaines, R-1, Bob Huff, R-29, Doug LaMalfa, R-4, Michael Rubio, D-16, Mimi Walters, R-33, Lois Wolk, D-5, Roderick Wright, D-25, and Mark Wyland, R-38.
  • Members absent or not voting were Lou Correa, D-34, Tom Harman, R-35, and Sharon Runner, R-17.
  • Thousands of Californians including wildlife advocates, ranchers, hunters and landowners have written or called in support of S.B. 1221, as have dozens of animal protection, wildlife rehabilitation and animal sheltering organizations including The HSUS, Sierra Club California, ASPCA, State Humane Association of California, the Bear League, and Wildcare.

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