Hunting will continue in wetlands

04/18/2013

The California Fish and Game Commission declined on Wednesday to take action on a petition by environmentalists and animal-rights activists to discontinue duck hunting at the state-run Tomales Bay Ecological Reserve. During a public hearing in Santa Rosa, officials heard from dozens of residents and received petitions from recreational hunters as well as residents opposed to the existing waterfowl-hunting regulations in some 500 acres of tidal flats and salt marshes. Residents who support the ban, namely the group Action Tomales Bay, say that hunting undermines an important refuge for waterbirds, while hunters said their longstanding traditions are important to pass on to children and that the conservation efforts pushed by their community have actually bolstered populations of ducks and other game. Commissioners and officials from the Department of Fish and Wildlife who spoke at the meeting agreed mostly with the hunters in deciding not to consider the issue further. “Our constituents at the department are clearly very passionate about an issue and often disagree, which shouldn’t be surprising, given the department’s mission is to take care of the state’s plants, animals and the habitats they depend upon for their ecological value and their use and enjoyment—and we heard both of those values expressed today,” department director Chuck Bonham said. Mr. Bonham added that he sees habitat protection and human use as compatible.