Wildlife Watch Inc.
Helping People, Environment, and Wildlife
BOX 562, NEW PALTZ, NY 12561
Voice:(845) 256-1400; Fax:(845) 622-7999
Contact: Joe Miele, Vice President 201-368-8271
Senator Nell Soto
State Capitol, Room 4074
Sacremento, CA 95814
June 27, 2003
Dear Senator Soto:
Wildlife Watch, Inc. is an animal protection organization that seeks to
educate the public about the mismanagement of wildlife by state and federal
wildlife agencies, and the destruction of wildlife and ecosystems in the
name of sport hunting and game management. On behalf of our 4,500 members
and supporters in California, we urge you to vote "NO" on AB 396 when it
comes for a vote before the California Senate.
AB396 is a dangerous bill because its passage would dramatically increase
recreational hunting throughout the state by requiring the California
Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) to create the Shared Habitat Alliance for
Recreational Enhancement or SHARE Program -- a program that would offer
financial compensation to landowners who permit hunting on their property.
There are many problems associated with this bill. One danger with AB 396
is that it would dramatically increase the number of coyotes, raccoons,
foxes, and skunks that would be killed, since California conservation laws
set no bag limits on these animals. If those animals are one side of a
"human-animal" conflict, non-lethal remedies exist to address the problem.
Contrary to the opinions held by the Safari Club International, The
California Sportsman's Lobby, and other supporters of the bill, it does
nothing to protect wildlife habitat, and only encourages landowners to open
their properties to hunting. By opening up more private land to hunting,
endangered and threatened species may be killed. Since many of these
species reside on private land, hunting on that land will have the
inevitable effect of hurting endangered species recovery attempts.
Additionally, pumping lead into an area seriously degrades land and water
quality, and poses a health threat from lead exposure.
AB 396 is contrary to the wishes of the majority of Californians. According
to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service figures from 2001, only 278,000
California residents hunt - this represents less than one percent of the
state's population. In contrast, 5.7 million California residents
participated in non-violent wildlife watching activities. Nationally, the
numbers in favor of hunting as just as bleak.
According to the July 2003 issue of
Field and Stream magazine, the number of hunters in the United States has
fallen over the last five years from 27 million to 13 million. Hunters now
make up only 4.6% of the population, compared to the 31% of the public who
are wildlife watchers - those who appreciate our native wildlife without
wishing to kill them.
Instead of catering to a very small special interest group comprised of
people who commit acts of extreme violence as a form of recreation and
entertainment, the Senate should considering only legislation that has the
good of Californians and California's wildlife at heart.
Our 4,500 members and supporters respectfully urge you to see that AB 396 is
not passed into law. Your response will be greatly appreciated.