It’s been a rocky period of change for the California Fish and Game Commission, the kind of change that’s not exactly endeared itself to the state’s outdoorsmen and -women. specifically hunting.
In late December, longtime comissioner Jim Kellogg stepped down, admitting “I’m leaving pretty much out of frustration,” he said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. “I’m just tired of being the only one fighting the fight for the hunters and fishers.”
Hunters believe the five-member commission is leaning heavy on conservation issues and away from the rights of the hunting community. Recent additions to the Fish and Game Commission were perceived to be conservation-first advocates.
The Los Angeles Times published a report on Saturday that reinforces the notion that the state’s hunting and fishing community is none too pleased with the direction of California’s outdoors administration.
Here’s a sample of Times reporter Patrick McGreevy’s story:
The number of Californians who hunt has dwindled to less than 1% of the population, but some who still carry rifles outdoors complain the state commission overseeing them has become too cozy with the animal rights movement.
Now Gov. Jerry Brown is facing pressure from outdoor enthusiasts to fill two vacancies on the five-person Fish and Game Commission with people who understand hunters and anglers and their role in conservation.
“The commission has shifted from a philosophy of conservation to one of preservation, meaning its direction has gone to where fishing and hunting are more and more limited and very difficult,” said Marko Mlikotin, executive director of the California Sportfishing League.
McGreevy shared some disappointing, if not disturbing, numbers.
Kellogg acknowledges that the California of his youth does not exist any more. Forty years ago, 608,455 people had California hunting licenses, when the state’s population was 21.5 million. Last year, 272,229 hunting licenses were issued though the state’s population is 39 million.
Many of the decisions the commission has made regarding specifically predator hunting in recent months has created tension within what’s left of the hunting cosmos. Here’s McGreevy with more:
Hunters were furious when the commission voted in 2014 to list gray wolves as endangered despite a recommendation by staff that it was not justified. But the clashing of interests came to a head in August when the commission voted 3-2 to ban all commercial bobcat trapping in the state though the department’s director recommended against it on the grounds there was no evidence the species was endangered.
Jack Baylis, then-president of the panel, supported the ban, joining a majority bloc that argued the state lacked the science to support continued trapping. The vote was blasted by outdoor activists including John Carlson Jr., president of the California Waterfowl Assn.
“We didn’t think Baylis was as balanced on the issues as he could have been,” said Carlson, who was executive director of the commission before 2010. “He went against some of the science-based recommendations of the department.”
There are a lot more details McGreevy covered, so this is a great read and I highly recommend checking it out. Here’s the link again .