California Sportsmen Lose Their Last Official Champion

Government supporters of anglers and hunters – long on the endangered species list in California – can now be declared officially extinct.

California Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Jim Kellogg — the staunchest defender of hunters and fisherman for 14 years — abruptly resigned on December 31, citing frustration with the lack of respect and consideration for the sports men and women he had fought to represent.

 “I’m leaving pretty much out of frustration,” the San Francisco Chronicle quoted Kellogg as saying. “I’m just tired of being the only one fighting the fight for the hunters and fishers,” he said. “The first 12 years I won most of the battles, and the last couple of years I lost almost every battle.”

Anti-hunting and fishing forces quickly reacted with glee. The Chronicle trumpeted that Kelley’s resignation will “complete the transformation of the commission from an organization that advocates for fishing and hunting to one that safeguards endangered species, preserves habitat, and protects California’s top predators from slaughter.”

California has increasingly viewed fees for hunting and fishing licenses as “sin taxes” equivalent to levies on cigarettes and alcohol –- designed to penalize and reduce undesirable behavior while raising funds to repair perceived damages to society

That approach appears to be working.  Last year California sold only 986,000 fishing licenses, down 57 percent since 1981 (from 2,296,107) despite large population increases.  Fees for hunting and fishing licenses and tags automatically go up each year.

In a particularly Orwellian twist, environmentalist anti-hunting and fishing groups were referred to in the Chronicle article as “conservationists,” a term normally applied to the men and women who pay for most conservation programs through hunting and fishing license fees.

In a symbolically potent move, urban state legislators in 2012 changed the name of the Fish and Game Department, which has managed wildlife issues since 1872, to the Fish and Wildlife Department.  Environmentalists crowed that the name change represented “a rejection of an archaic view that wildlife is meant to be shot or speared and mounted on a wall.”

Hunters in particular are especially politically incorrect and targeted in California. Some readers of the Chronicle article trashed hunters.

Hunters have also been caught up in the pervasive anti-2nd amendment attitude in California’s legislature.  Anti-gun legislation intended to make ammunition more expensive or difficult to obtain often masquerades as justified by wildlife concerns.

The original ban on hunting with lead ammunition in parts of the state was legitimate because endangered condors were being poisoned by eating carcasses containing lead. But the extension of the lead ban statewide – beyond the range of condors – was justified as a “health issue” to save children from being poisoned by lead shot in game – despite lack of evidence that any such poisoning has ever occurred. 

With Jim Kelley’s departure, California Governor Jerry Brown will now have the opportunity to make two new appointments to the five-member commission.  His last appointment was 47-year-old Anthony Williams of San Rafael, an African-American Democratic party political consultant with no outdoor background.

Photo credit: Dreamstime