Ensuring Public Engagement and Protecting Wildlife
For three years in a row (2008-2011), the California Department of Fish and Game proposed that the Fish and Game Commission increase the quota for the hunting of black bears. The Department also proposed the initiation of a bear hunt in San Luis Obispo County, expansion of bear hunts in Modoc and Lassen Counties, expansion areas where the pursuit of bears by dogs was allowed. Relying on CEQA provisions that require government agencies to adequately analyze and disclose the impacts on the environment associated with policy changes, The Humane Society of the United States and others provided substantive comments detailing the inadequacies of the Department’s analysis including a failure to evaluate impacts of the proposal on local bear populations or to address threats to the species from rampant poaching. Expert biologists demonstrated that the Department was relying on outdated and incomplete methodologies for estimating the state’s bear population. Thanks to the thorough analysis and public engagement required by the California Environmental Quality Act, the Commission chose not to pursue this policy change.