Next week in Sacramento, several bills in committees will be heard that each have potential to cause serious negative impact to wild animals. Now is a good time to let your representatives know how you feel, and how important are wild animals, wild systems and wild Earth. How much democracy we have may be up for debate, but if we don’t use the tools we know we have we have none. Here’s a brief summary of two of these bills, why Bird Ally X opposes them and who you should contact to make your voice heard.
AB 2205: In 2012, Senate Bill 1221, which banned the use of hounds to hunt bear or bobcat was passed and signed into law. Since taking effect January of 2013, the number of Black Bears killed by hunters in California fell 40%, which is approximately the percentage of bears killed using hounds in the preceding years.
AB 2205, introduced this year by Assemblymember Tim Donnelly (R-33), would repeal that ban. Bird Ally X opposes this bill. Hunting Black Bear, or any animals, with hounds is cruel, serves no wildlife management goal, is disruptive to other native, non-targeted wild animals, and is cruel to the hounds as well. (Read our letter here)
14 other states have also banned hounding bear, including Montana nearly 100 years ago!
AB 2205 will be heard in the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife Tuesday, April 29. Follow the provided links to that committee to find if your representative is a member. Let him or her know that hounding bear is a relic of a bygone era. Uphold the ban. Oppose AB 2205.
If you are able to attend the hearing in Sacramento and speak on behalf of bear, bobcat, and all wildlife, that would be awesome! Here’s the address!
AB 2343: This bill, authored by Mike Gatto (D-43) is a legislative attempt to financially shore up the legally mandated animal shelter minimum hold period, known as Hayden’s law, passed in 1998. Hayden’s law lengthened the period lost or stray animals must be held by shelters to ensure they have adequate time to be reunited with their human families. During the budget crisis of 2009, this law was suspended due to the costs of these increased periods. While we support legislation that strives for the best outcomes for lost pets, a portion of the provisions of this bill will promote the abandonment of impounded cats.
The specific language that creates this problem is:
SEC. 4. 31752. (a) Except as provided in Section 17006, for any local governmental entity that receives block grant funding under Section 17581.8 of the Government Code, no stray cat admitted to a public or private shelter shall be euthanized or otherwise disposed of until after the expiration of the required holding period for a stray cat impounded pursuant to this division, which shall be six business days, not including the day of impoundment admission, except as follows: (b) (1) In addition to the prohibition against euthanasia set forth in subdivision (a), a stray cat admitted to a public or private shelter shall be made available for owner redemption, adoption, or release to an animal rescue or adoption organization during the required holding period, as follows:
(B) Any stray cat without identification may be made available for adoption or release to an animal rescue or adoption organization at any time.
The costs associated with providing real, humane care for large numbers of homeless cats makes sheltering difficult. Unfortunately, many so-called rescue groups solve this difficulty by merely abandoning these unwanted house cats in outdoor feral colonies. Transferring these animals to “rescue” groups without ensuring that this is not the case is tragically irresponsible.
In order for this bill to truly protect animal welfare in spirit and letter, it must specifically state that these rescue groups not abandon cats received from shelters into uncontained feral colonies, managed or otherwise. Uncontained feral cat colonies, as peer-reviewed scientific studies can verify, are inhumane to cats and devastating to wildlife.
As wildlife rehabilitators we deal first hand with the harm caused by invasive free-roaming cats. Each year California rehabilitators take in well over 10,000 wild animals who have been injured by housecats. More than half of these animals must be humanely euthanized due to the severity of their injuries. Of course these are just the animals that are found and brought to a wildlife caregiver. As was reported in the Smithsonian Magazine in 2013, free-roaming cats kill as many as 3.7 billion birds and 20 billion small mammals annually in the United States alone!
The life of a homeless free-roaming cat is also brutal. Cars, disease, dishonorable people, each poses a real and significant hazard. As has been said many times, feral cats do not die of old age. Feral and free-roaming cats die suffering deaths caused by infection, parasites, traumatic injury and more. We advocate strongly that responsible pet ownership includes keeping cats contained, safe from highways, abuse, feline disease, and spread of other diseases such as rabies and toxoplasmosis, a significant threat to public health for which cats are the primary host.
The needs of wild animals, the needs of homeless or stray cats, and public safety must come before well-intended mistakes. AB 2343, as it is written, risks enshrining irresponsibility and unnecessary wildlife mortality in law.
AB 2343 will be heard in the Assembly Committee for Local Government, Wednesday, April 30. You can let Assemblymember Katcho Achadjian, the chair for that committee, know that wildlife must not be asked to pay the costs of abandoning stray cats. AB 2343 is bad for wildlife, bad for cats, and bad for people.
Hon. Katcho Achadjian, chair
Assembly Local Government Committee
1020 N Street, Room 157
Sacramento, California 95814
Literature on feral cats and feral cat management:
Longcore, T., et al (2009) Critical assessment of claims regarding management of feral cats by trap–neuter–return, Conservation Biology, volume 23, no. 4, 887–894
Jessup, D. (2004) The welfare of feral cats and wildlife, Journal of American Veterinary Medicine Association, volume 225, no. 9
Peterson, M., et al (2012) PLOS ONE, www.plosone.org, volume 7, no. 9, e44616
McCarthy, R., et al (2013) Estimation of effectiveness of three methods of feral cat population control by use of a simulation model, Journal of American Veterinary Medicine Association, volume 243, no. 4