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Nava Calls for Investigation of Department of Fish and Game Policy on Euthanizing Animals

SACRAMENTO /California Newswire/ — Assemblymember Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara) sent a letter today to the Chair of the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee requesting the committee to hold an informational hearing or begin an investigation into the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) policy on euthanizing animals.

Assemblymember Pedro NavaLast week DFG wardens euthanized a bear in Ojai after it wandered into a residential neighborhood. Many residents feel that the situation could have been resolved without resulting in the death of the bear.

“With increased urban wild land interface throughout the state, the likelihood of wild animals interacting with people is only going to increase,” Said Nava, “We need to make sure that humane policies for addressing these problems are in place and that Fish and Game personnel respond accordingly.”

The Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee has jurisdiction to provide legislative oversight of the Department of Fish and Game.

Letter Attached
( – follows – )
October 22, 2009
Assemblymember Jared Huffman, Chair
Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife
State Capitol. Room 3120
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Assemblymember Huffman:

Last week, Department of Fish and Game (DFG) officials were contacted to respond to a large black bear that had climbed a tree in Ojai. As I understand it, the animal was tranquilized while in a tree, fell approximately forty feet, and was subsequently euthanized by DFG personnel.

A number of community members have contacted my office since the incident to express outrage over the killing of the animal. Some claim to have been misled by DFG officials who promised the bear would be released back into the wild.

In light of both increased development in the urban/wildland interface and the proliferation of wildfires in recent years (which can destroy black bear habitat and move animals closer to contact with humans), it seems clear that wildlife incidents similar to that which occurred in Ojai last week will only become more frequent. Consequently, I am hereby requesting a hearing or investigation by the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee into DFG’s policy for handling situations like this.

Thank you for your consideration of this request, and please let me know how you would like to proceed with this matter.

Sincerely,
PEDRO NAVA
Assemblymember, 35th District

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  • Scott Weldy

    I think it is time the Dept. of Fish and Game updated their knowledge regarding wildlife. A few months ago, on a Sunday, an adult female mountain lion found in a residential area was darted by the DFG and transported to my office in Lake Forest, CA for evaluation. The animal was found to be under weight, had external parasites,but otherwise was in fairly good condition. Fecal exams were not done initially, but blood work was within normal limits for her estimated age. The animal was treated, given supportive measures and later transported to an exotic Feline Breeding facility in Rosamond, CA for holding until it could be decided whether the cat could be re-released or transferred to another facility. The cat was eating and acting normally for a wild caught felid in captivity. The end for this cat came that Thursday when Fish and Game euthanized the cat at the Compound. They sited an “in dept. policy” referring to the inability of wild cougars to adapt to captivity. The officers were ordered to seize the animal and euthanize the cat. They came un-announced, tranquilized the cat and euthanized the animal. No one contacted any of the veterinarians or facility experts (or any other non department personnel) regarding the adaptive capabilities of this particular cat. Nine zoos/facilities had requested this cat be sent to them for permanent housing if it was deemed non-releasable by the DFG and/or the veterinarians involved. I feel the disposition of this genetically valuable cougar was wasted by euthanasia. Adult wild exotic felids are transported from the wild and placed in breeding programs throughout the world in order to protect genetic diversity in captive populations and to try and prevent extinction in the wild. Adult females adapt better when re-released since they don’t have the territory issues males released in another’s territories may encounter. We use tracking collars with GPS capabilities to monitor released animals. I believe it is time DFG allowed other professionals to manage captive wild specimens when they become entangled with humanity if release is not an option. The Federal and State laws make acquiring out of state wild cougars very difficult for California based facilities which makes a breeding age female extremely valuable. The work that was done and the options we provided to the DFG were donated by my hospital and the staff of the feline compound. The State would have incurred no risk and no expenditures and the cat would have been allowed to live and hopefully contribute further to our knowledge and understanding of our native wildlife. I concur with the need for an evaluation of the policies and regulations the DFG is required to uphold with respect to wildlife in the State of California.