Sunday, November 14, 2010

Take Action: Stop the Closing of CA Game Refuges


Tell the California Dept of Fish and Game (DFG) to either:

1—Leave all the State Game Refuges open as they are (no hunting allowed); or

2—Conduct proper (third party, unbiased) research to analyze the State Game Refuges and share the results of those studies with the public.


Since 1869, when Lake Merritt (Oakland) was declared the first state game refuge (believed to be the first in the country), the total number is up to 21. The current DFG proposal is to close 19 of the 21 state refuges and open them to hunting.


Part of the DFG’s stated rationale for the “closing” proposal is that the game refuges “no longer serve their purpose.” However, there is debate as to (1) what the actual purpose was for which they were established 100 years ago; and (2) whether refuges do indeed provide and protect both wildlife and habitat.

CA State Game Refuges are one of the few designated areas where no hunting is allowed. In fact, it is illegal to carry firearms, pellet guns or archery weapons in State Game Refuge areas. In 2008, a bill was passed (SB 1166) to allow law enforcement personnel to enter refuge areas with their firearms. However, another provision of the bill mandated that DFG conduct public outreach and education to consider closing the refuges with the unsubstantiated claim that they no longer served their “purpose.” Even the bill’s analysts (Assembly and Senate) questioned the validity of that claim. Currently, with no evidence or research to support the proposal, DFG states that the refuges are “complete failures” and should be closed—thus opening them up to hunting.

With millions of acres available for hunting in California, it makes no sense to close the few official refuges—destroying them forever as true “refuges” for wildlife. Our wildlife regulatory agencies were established to “preserve” our natural resources. Their primary purpose is not to enhance hunting opportunities, open up new public areas for hunting, sell more hunting tags, or deplete our natural resources, but a valid argument can be made that that is what the agencies’ roles seem to have morphed into.

It is a known fact that non-consumptive uses of our natural resources (hikers, wildlife watchers, birders, boaters, photographers, campers, etc.) represent a much larger group than hunters. Yet folks involved in hunting activities—less than 1% of our state’s population—are now seemingly setting the standards and goals as to how our wildlife, that belongs to all of us, will be “managed” (aka: depleted, harvested, killed, dispatched, etc.).


The closing of the State Game Refuges must not be allowed to proceed, especially without any supporting scientific research. Currently, depending upon which statements one reads, DFG is conducting either a public “poll” or an “evaluation and review” of the proposal to close. The deadline is December 1, 2010 to submit comments (via email: and/or take the public survey at . (The survey on this website allows only one submission per computer.)

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