Anti dog-hunting groups oppose hunters’ use of dogs to both hunt and aid in the tracking and recovery of game. Without dogs, sportsmen and women’s success afield, along with their ability to recover game, would be severely limited. Additionally, by hunting with dogs, sportsmen and women are able to fulfill their ethical obligations as hunters to make every possible effort to locate downed game.
Hunting with dogs has emerged at the forefront of controversial issues in several states, pitting anti-hunters against the many hunters who use dogs to passionately pursue a sport rooted in the history of their state. Hunting with dogs may entail using a dog or groups of dogs to flush animals such as rabbits or deer from thick cover or to track wounded game over difficult terrain. Thus, the use of dogs often allows hunters to fulfill their ethical obligation to do everything possible to recover game.
The use of dogs is a deep-seeded component of hunting for wild game, including some dangerous game such as cougars and bears. Without dogs, sportsmen’s success afield would be severely limited for many types of hunting. Additionally, the use of tracking dogs improves the rate of game recovery. Some anti-hunting advocates are outraged by this method of hunting and have made repeated attempts to outlaw the activity. Their complaints include repeated reports of trespassing by hunters, damage to crops, property and livestock, and various animal cruelty accusations. Sportsmen, as always, must remain prudent and ethical with their use of dogs to discredit the accusations of the anti-hunting community.
- In 2012, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation (Chapter 595), championed by the Humane Society of the United States, which makes it unlawful to permit or allow a dog to pursue a bear or bobcat at any time.
- Conversely, on February 1, 2013 the Nevada Wildlife Commission rejected a petition to ban the use of dogs for hunting bears.
Points of Interest
- Allowing tracking dogs to aid in the recovery of harvested or wounded game may improve the non-hunting public’s perception of hunting. It is the ethical responsibility of all hunters to do everything within their natural abilities to recover their game. Tracking dogs aid in the fulfillment of this responsibility.
- In response to the growing challenges emerging for the sport, the Virginia Department of Fish and Game commissioned a study and created a Stakeholder Advisory Committee to gather information on issues related to hunting with dogs for deer and bears, evaluate these findings, and recommend to the public possible strategies to address concerns.
- Dogs have long been prized partners of waterfowl and upland bird hunters. The use of dogs for these pursuits remains non-controversial and greatly enhances game retrieval.
- Anti-hunting interests in a number of states, including Oregon (1994), and Washington (1996), have successfully used the ballot box to ban the use of hounds for hunting bears and cougars. These groups were able to do so through the use of graphic images and misleading information that did not accurately depict hound hunting.
- A 2014 ballot initiative in Maine, supported by the Humane Society of the United States, to ban bear hunting with hounds failed after hunters rallied in support of this tradition.
- In 2016, Georgia enacted GH S 184 which defined registration requirements for hunting dogs.
While each legislator should tailor their approach to this issue to their constituency, it is important that they consider the impact on sportsmen and women when laws or regulations are proposed that would impact the use of dogs for hunting.
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Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?Vote Here
- Increase the number of states with discounted license tailored to specific groups. (6.04%)
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- Engage youth through hunter and conservation programs in schools. (43.11%)
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