California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation removing the word “game” from the title of the California agency known for 6 decades as the Department of Fish and Game, replacing it with “wildlife,” a move that has hunters and sportsmen’s groups concerned that the future of hunting, fishing and game management might be imperiled in The Golden State.
I first alerted you about this legislation in an August blog post, noting that AB 2283 passed the democrat-heavy California State Assembly on May 30 by a decidedly partisan vote of 47 to 27, despite the fact that implementing the name change is estimated to cost a state foundering in red ink nearly $370,000.
California’s game-changer becomes effective Jan. 1, 2013.
With the change, a total of 11 state agencies continue to have “game” in their title, while 18 use “wildlife,” and the remainder use “natural resources” or “conservation.”
The California action is particularly significant because no other agency that has changed its title in recent decades has done so under pressure to specifically eliminate the term “game.”
Not surprisingly, the name change was supported by the nation’s largest anti-hunting organization, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
California HSUS Director Jennifer Fearing said changing the name of the agency to include wildlife better reflects the state’s population, noting that the number of California residents who enjoy watching wildlife outnumber hunters by about 22 to 1.
Bill Gaines, longtime sportsmen’s advocate and president of the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance, conceded that the change indeed had a lot to do with numbers.
“We were outnumbered; there’s no question about it,” Gaines said. “I think that what the proponents wanted to do was send a signal that we’re changing the foundation of the Department of Fish and Game—and that's hunting and fishing.”
Just days before signing the measure into law, Gov. Brown approved another bill that banned the use of pursuit hounds for hunting black bears and bobcats. The effort to pass the measure, which moved through the General Assembly and Senate during the summer, was primarily bankrolled by the HSUS. Had the measure failed, HSUS promised to launch a ballot initiative in The Golden State to achieve the same goal.