The following article was reprinted with permission from the Oct. 9 edition of The Archery Wire. To subscribe to The Archery Wire, visit www.archerywire.com/signup_intro.php.
With one sweep of his pen last week, Gov. Jerry Brown approved legislation removing the word “game” from the name of the California agency known for six decades as the Department of Fish and Game, replacing it with “wildlife,” a move that has bowhunters and other pro-hunting groups concerned that the future of hunting, fishing and game management may be imperiled.
Just days earlier, Gov. Brown signed another bill that banned the use of pursuit hounds for hunting black bears and bobcats. The effort to pass the measure, which chugged its way through the General Assembly and Senate during the summer, was primarily bankrolled by the nation’s largest and most powerful anti-hunting group, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Had the measure failed, HSUS promised to launch a ballot initiative in The Golden State to achieve the same goal.
Also this summer, members of the California Fish and Game Commission (soon to be Fish and Wildlife Commission), voted to remove Dan Richards as commission president after a controversy erupted early this year when it was publicized that he took part in an Idaho mountain lion hunt in 2011. Animal protection groups were incensed that Richards bagged a lion, reasoning that the species falls under special protection in The Golden State. Hunting mountain lions is legal—and popular—in Idaho and other Rocky Mountain states.
Being California, there’s no shortage of irony on behalf of the many hypocrites responsible for all three of these recent actions.
For example, despite the fact that the name change was originally estimated to cost a state that is currently foundering in red ink nearly $370,000 to implement, AB 2283 passed the Democrat-heavy California State Assembly on May 30 by a decidedly partisan vote of 47 to 27.
California’s game-changing action becomes effective January 1, 2013. Presently, a dozen state agencies retain the word “game” in their title, 18 use “wildlife,” and the remainder “natural resources” or “conservation.”
Assemblyman Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) and Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) both contended that changing the agency’s name signals it is moving away from managing game for hunting and indicates a general lack of support for sportsmen.
“The goal of some in California, in the Legislature, would be to eliminate hunting as one of the core missions of the Department of Fish and Game,” Cannella told the Los Angeles Times.
The bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Canada Flintridge), argued the name change better reflected the agency’s work, and specified it would subsequently be known as “Cal Wild,” following the lead of Caltrans (Department of Transportation) and Cal Fire (Department of Forestry and Fire Protection).
Bill Gaines, longtime sportsmen’s advocate and president of the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance, clearly sees it as a game of numbers.
“I think that what the proponents wanted to do was send a signal that we’re changing the foundation of the Department of Fish and Game—and that’s hunting and fishing,” Gaines said. “We were outnumbered, there’s no question about it.”
And speaking of numbers, with the flurry of anti-hunting activity and legislation occurring on the Left Coast in recent months, we suggest that bowhunters remain particularly vigilant as the 2013 legislative sessions convene. Among all hunting factions remaining there, archery hunters may comprise perhaps the smallest minority, and could pose a logical target for potential elimination in the “progressive” state of California.