Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting

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Stop California's SHARE Program

Wildlife Watch Inc.
Helping People, Environment, and Wildlife
PO BOX 562, NEW PALTZ, NY 12561
Voice:(845) 256-1400; Fax:(845) 622-7999
e-mail: wildwatch@earthlink.net
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.

Sincerely,

Joe Miele

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