Apr 19, 2018

Commission Approves Progressive Predator Policy

By Rebecca Dmytryk

In December, 2015, I was appointed by the California Fish and Game Commission to serve on the newly established Predator Policy Workgroup. This group of ten, representing wildlife conservation, non-lethal wildlife control, hunting and agriculture, was tasked with the job of reviewing existing regulations that govern terrestrial carnivores and making recommendations to modernize them, and, developing a separate policy for predators.

It was a cumbersome process. Over a 24-month period, we met only 8 times, our meetings and communications were hamstrung by the Bagley-Keene Act, and, not only were we, on the wildlife conservation side, outnumbered, the majority of workgroup members were lobbyists - making compromise virtually impossible.

Despite the difficulties, the workgroup did accomplish some important work. After thorough review of the regulations, we submitted constructive feedback. You can view our recommendations, HERE. The group also crafted a comprehensive terrestrial predator policy, with only two points of contention - the inclusion of the word humane, as it relates to methods used to resolve predator conflicts, and exclusion of recreational take

Today, after listening to our final presentations and hearing testimony from professionals and members of the public (view the video of Agenda Item 32HERE)the Fish and Game Commission voted to adopt the Terrestrial Predator Policy (below) with a slight revision proposed by Commissioner Williams - which we supported.

Terrestrial Predator Policy 
(as amended by the Fish & Game Commission, April 19, 2018) 

It is the policy of the Fish and Game Commission that: 

I. For the purposes of this policy, terrestrial predators are defined as all native wildlife species in the Order Carnivora, except those in the Family Otariidae (seals, sea lions), the Family Phocidae (true seals), and sea otters (Enhydra lutris). 

II. Pursuant to the objectives set forth in Section 1801 of Fish and Game Code, the Fish and Game Commission (Commission) acknowledges that native terrestrial predators are an integral part of California’s natural wildlife and possess intrinsic, biological, historical, and cultural value, which benefit society and ecosystems. The Commission shall promote the ecological, scientific, aesthetic, recreational, and educational value of native terrestrial predators in the context of ecosystem-based management, while minimizing adverse impacts on wildlife and reducing conflicts that result in adverse impacts to humans, including health and safety, private property, agriculture, and other public and private economic impacts. 

III. The Commission further recognizes that sustainable conservation and management strategies are necessary to encourage the coexistence of humans and wildlife. It is, therefore, the policy and practice of the Fish and Game Commission that: 

a. Existing native terrestrial predator communities and their habitats are monitored, maintained, restored, and/or enhanced using the best available science. The department shall protect and conserve predator populations. 

b. Native terrestrial predator management shall be consistent with the goals and objectives of existing management and conservation plans. Management strategies shall recognize the ecological interactions between predators and other wildlife species and consider all available management tools, best available science, affected habitat, species, and ecosystems and other factors. The department shall provide consumptive and non-consumptive recreational opportunities. The recreational take of native terrestrial predator species shall be managed in a way that ensures sustainable populations of predator and prey are maintained. 

c. Human-predator conflict resolution shall rely on management strategies that avoid and reduce conflict that results in adverse impacts to human health and safety, private property, agriculture, and public and private economic impacts. Efforts should be made to minimize habituation of predators especially where it is leading to conflict. Human safety shall be considered a priority. Management decisions regarding human-predator conflicts shall evaluate and consider various forms of lethal and nonlethal controls that are efficacious, humane, feasible and in compliance with all applicable state and federal laws and regulations. A diverse set of tools is necessary to avoid, reduce, and manage conflict. To ensure long term conservation of predators and coexistence with humans and wildlife, all legal tools shall be considered when managing to address conflicts.  

While the Predator Policy Workgroup was officially disbanded earlier this year, I am looking forward to continuing to work on modernizing the regulations with at least one of the original workgroup members, Josh Brones. 

We're currently in recruitment mode, looking for people with knowledge and experience in wildlife conservation, hunting and agriculture, who are willing and able to invest the time and energy necessary. If you or someone you know is interested in being a part of this new ten-member workgroup, please contact me at rebecca (at) wildlifeservices dot org.

A huge THANK YOU! to everyone who worked on the drafting and review process and to the Fish & Game Commission for adopting a progressive predator policy!  

I also want to thank our WES supporters. Your contributions have helped get me to and from Workgroup meetings and Commission hearings. Your continued support is greatly appreciated. Thank you!!!