Using dogs to hunt and chase deer to exhaustion is banned nationally, except in California and nine Deep South states and Hawaii. Instead of adhering to ethical hunting principles, California’s Fish and Game Commission proposes to give deer hunters an even greater unfair advantage by approving GPS collars on their dogs.
Traditionally, hunters controlled their hounds with solid training and kept up during pursuits. Currently, hunters can use radio telemetry collars to find hounds when they’ve trapped a deer. If the commission approves GPS collars at its Wednesday meeting, unacceptable wildlife disturbances and poaching opportunities will increase.
GPS collars will allow hunters to release untrained dogs that range out of control for many miles, and follow the dogs on a digital screen. Hunters are no longer physically involved in the actual hunt or chase. When GPS signals indicate dogs have stopped, hunters cannot know what the dogs are up to, nor can they immediately stop dog attacks on vulnerable wildlife, such as fawns or endangered species. The dogs, themselves, will be at greater risk of being attacked by predators without hunters being able to intervene in time.
Legalizing GPS collars is also an onerous gift to poachers, whose sophisticated use of electronic devices overwhelms enforcement by wildlife officers. Instead of cracking down on poaching, allowing GPS collars will encourage poaching to continue at its already unprecedented levels.
In its unwarranted determination to approve GPS collars, the commission is abandoning its mandate to protect and preserve our natural resources. Citizens must urge a “no” vote and make their legislators aware of this travesty by calling on them to take swift action.
Marilyn Jasper of Loomis is chairwoman of the Sierra Club Placer Group Conservation Committee and president of the Humane Society of the Sierra Foothills. She can be contacted at Marilyn.Jasper@MLC.sierraclub.org.