The Fish and Game Commission voted very quickly to adopt staff’s recommendation and deny our petition to remove ferrets from the prohibited species list.
California Fish and Game Commission kills petition to legalize ferrets
There were two reasons for the recommendation to Deny. As stated in their report.
Any change to the regulation would require coordination with CDFA (California Department of Food and Agriculture) and the proposed action would effectively eliminate the Commission’s authority to regulate ferrets, with the exception of escaped individuals to the extent those individuals could be shown to have reverted to a wild state.
Because ferrets are admittedly domestic animals.
Secondly, right from the environmental report we provided them:
Regarding potential impacts to wildlife populations, the report finds that while the establishment of feral colonies is improbable, there is a possibility that escaped ferrets might do significant damage to wildlife, such as ground-nesting birds or listed species, during a period up to a few weeks of survival.
We merely hoped the Commission would grant further consideration so the issue could be studied further and these legitimate concerns could be investigated. We offered to pay for additional study. I was very surprised they voted to kill the petition with out question or discussion.
Five people spoke in favor of our position and one person, Mark Hennelly, Vice President of Legislative Affairs and Public Policy for the California Waterfowl Association spoke of the danger of introducing or legalizing exotic species in California, that New Zealand has a severe problem with ferrets (which aren’t ferrets, but polecat or polecat-ferret hybrids) and feral populations of ferrets in England.
Where do we go from here?
My feeling is to still proceed with the Fish and Game Commission. Do they have the authority to regulate domestic animal?
We can easily refute what Mr. Hennelly told them. But we need to deal with the issue of ferrets and ground nesting birds. They haven’t been a problem anywhere else – let’s gather up the info and present more data.
We also have an election coming up and new legislators. We haven’t had any success with legislators for ten years. But we did make new friends up there who said they would help.
So Fish and Game Commission – we’ll be back!
We will have the video of our portion of the meeting up shortly.
I want to give everyone a head’s up as we go into the Fish and Game Commission meeting October 20th. While they have recommended the Commission to deny our request they did publish this memo.
The Environmental Report we did was very thorough but the previous Commissioners never acknowledged or accepted it. I think we are about 90% of the way there.
We will be at the Commission meeting asking them to move the process towards ferret legalization along. I fully expect they will do so, but perhaps not as quickly or easily as we would like. Reading their report, we can’t say it is unfair or inaccurate. They are just being extremely cautious. We have the resources to bring this to a happy conclusion.
The all new California Fish and Game Commission heard our request for a petition for regulation change at their August 25th Meeting.
We went in apprehensive and a bit confused because the staff had recommended against proceeding. Why on earth would they recommend a denial, and say we didn’t produce a report that was given to them?
Unlike our previous encounters with Fish and Game Commissioners, this Commission seemed genuinely interested in everyone who came forward. They used to play on their phones, totally ignore us and make us feel most unwelcome and intrusive.
After the presentation one of the staff came up and apologized profusely. The report which we are basing everything on was in an email attachment. When the email was forwarded they didn’t include the attachment, so our Environmental Report was not included in their decision.
The Commission voted to reconsider their request at the next meeting,
October 19th and 20th (Wednesday and Thursday)
Red Lion Hotel, 1929 4th Street, Eureka
We are going to try to have a mini-ferret round up on the evening of the 19th and get as many people as possible to the Fish and Game Meeting on October 20th. We imagine we will be towards the end of the day again.
Stay tuned for details.
The August 25th Fish and Game Commission is a turning point for ferret legalization efforts in California. Here’s what happened.
Previously to the meeting Fish and Game staff recommended a “Deny” for our request for petition change. They cited the need for proponents to agree to fund an Environmental Impact Report.
They totally ignored that in 2010 we went through the process and submitted one. We can’t help it if the former commissioners wouldn’t acknowledge it.
At the meeting I told the Commissioners of all the work involved and game them copies of the report and the CEQA checklist the former Commissioners also required. We had our paperwork in order.
The Commissioners looked a little confused and then said this is the first they’ve seen of these reports.
Later one of the staffers came up to me and offered a sincere apology. When the email with the Report was forwarded, the attachment didn’t go with it. I believe her and appreciate her sincerity. It was an honest mistake; one I make occasionally. I should have sent them hard copies.
Dr Gandolfi also gave a presentation, adding some polish to our side. A representative of PIJAC spoke in favor, representing the pet industry.
But very telling – let me copy this from California WatchDog:
Kimberly Richard, a ferret enthusiast and the environmental chair for the Democrats of Napa Valley, talked about her childhood pet Mr. Weazermeister, who thought everyone was his best friend, especially a rabbit named “Thumper” (CalWatchdog could not confirm the spelling of Mr. Weazermeister’s name).
“I just heard about this — oh my god,” said Kimberly Richard, a ferret enthusiast and environmental chair for the Democrats of Napa Valley. “What state bans ferrets?”
Notice that a random person who just showed up on another issue had a ferret in Texas and she’s laughing at the ban. It also helps she is identified as a Democrat and an environmentalist, we are gaining support from where we didn’t have it before.
Our video of the meeting should be up shortly. Plans are being made for the next Fish and Game meeting. We’re on a roll!
Tomorrow – August 25th is a big day for California ferret lovers
We previously submitted a regulation for petition change, remove ferrets from the list of prohibited species list. The petition was quickly accepted and Fish and Game staff were very help, and even seemed enthusiastic to help me move this through.
The Fish and Game Commission is made up of entirely new members. The members seem to be interested in conservation, where the previous members were more allied with the hunting and fishing community. Nothing wrong with that but they did not have anything in common with us pet owners.
So it was with heart break and astonishment we read the staff’s recommendation to DENY our request for further consideration.
Fish and Game recommends a DENY to our petition for regulation change
This was despite support for the petition and no opposition:
Support for ferret legalization
Let me get this straight. Ferrets are legal in 48 states. There have been no issues regarding this, everyone else is enjoying their ferrets. Though we have more ferrets than any other state, we’re still hiding ours.
And the Fish and Game Commission doesn’t even want to open this up for discussion?
And they base this on the fact that in 2000 the Commissioners said we need to agree to fund an Environmental Report.
I’m going to try to be positive. But this is the very definition of chutzpa.
I hope a lot of ferret lovers show up at this Fish and Game Meeting, we’re gathering at noon:
Lake Natoma Inn Hotel & Conference Center
702 Gold Lake Dr.
Folsom, CA 95630
We’ve had signs printed.
And we hired a videographer to produce a mini-documentary on the meeting, my and other’s presentation, the commissioner’s response and our supporter’s response.
We want to see – will the Commissioners be interested in what we have to say, or will it be more stern-faced Commissioners looking at their smart phones as we make our presentations.
We’ll know a lot more tomorrow – I hope we have a lot of supporters!
We were very surprised to see a recommendation of “DENY” come from the Fish and Game’s Wildlife Committee for our petition for regulation change. The Commission will announce their answer on Thursday, August 25th at their meeting in Folsom, CA.
The reason for their recommendation:
Fish and Game recommends a DENY on our petition for Regulation Change
There have been two studies done.
Back in 1995 we were told the Commission didn’t have the resources to perform an environmental study on ferrets. But they did it anyway. And when their own study (1996-97 NATIONWIDE FERRET SURVEY OF STATE WILDLIFE AGENCIES) failed to come up with any detriments to legalizing ferrets they buried the study. But it was discovered by Jeanne Carley while she was doing research.
In 2000 the Commission said for them to agree to consider ferret legalization the proponents would have to agree to fund another environmental study. In 2010 we did, the study was conducted by Sacramento State University under the guidelines give to us by members of the California Fish and Game Commission. Here is that study.
When we submitted that study they said it was incomplete without a CEQA Checklist. So we hired a consultant and submitted the Checklist.
Neither the Environmental Report nor the accompanying CEQA Checklist were ever accepted.
Someone at either the Fish and Game Commission or the Department of Fish and Wildlife said the Environmental Report was inadequate but a Public Records Request act showed that nobody at either agency had read the report.
We will still be at the meeting on August 25th, make our presentation, have supporters with signs. And we except to move this issue further.
Regarding your response to my PRA request on April 30th ferret “bite” incident
County of San Diego
Health and Human Services Agency
3851 Rosecrans St Mail Stop P-57
San Diego, CA 92110-3134
Dear Dr. McDonald,
On June 2nd I had an unexpected visit from La Mesa Animal Control Officer C Gremillion and La Mesa Police Department Officer T Purdy. They told me I was reported as the owner of a ferret that bit someone on April 30th in Balboa Park. I explained I had not been in Balboa Park for years and knew nothing of the incident. I asked how my name got involved in this and they said to contact Jackie Hopkins at your office.
I filed a Public Records Request Act dated June 4th but delayed one week because I used an out of date address for your office. You responded on July 2nd.
My hope was to find out the Why, Who, Where and How of the situation.
I got none of this. I got an explanation that some documents are being withheld. You cited Government Code 6254 ( c ) :
A personnel, medical or similar record generally refers to intimate or personal information which an individual is required to provide to a government agency frequently in connection with employment. The fact that information is in a personnel file does not necessarily make it exempt information. Information such as an individual’s qualifications, training, or employment background, which are generally public in nature, ordinarily are not exempt. Information submitted by license applicants is not covered by section 6254(c) but is protected under section 6254(n) and, under special circumstances, may be withheld under the balancing test in section 6255.
And ( k )
Attorney-Client Privilege The attorney-client privilege covers confidential communications between an attorney and his or her client. The privilege applies to litigation and nonlitigation situations. The privilege appears in section 954 of the Evidence Code and is incorporated into the CPRA through section 6254(k). The privilege lasts forever unless waived. However, the privilege is not waived when a confidential communication is provided to an opposing party where to do so is reasonably necessary to assist the parties in finalizing their negotiations.
A little research on my part shows that your decision is not subject to appeal. The only way for me to obtain the information is through a lawsuit. I do not wish to further fund the legal profession.
What I did learn is “I am known to bring ferrets into public places.” And my ferrets have been responsible for a previous bite incident.”
Did more than one of my ferrets bite the same person?
A Little Background:
Actually there was one bite incident. On January 1st 1998 my ferret Rocky bit a TV cameraman. Animal Control showed up on January 3rd without a warrant. We reached an agreement that Rocky would be quarantined at Plaza Boulevard Animal Hospital in National City. On January 5th Animal Control seized him and euthanized him that night. We learned that once the Department of Health Services in Sacramento knew who’s ferret they had, they ordered the ferret killed immediately. Then they asked for his vaccination status. News story here.
There was a subsequent incident in Balboa Park a few years later. An unattended four-year-old girl grabbed one of my ferrets without permission. When we retrieved the ferret back his claws scratched her arm. Shortly thereafter nine armed agents came to my house with a search warrant. I didn’t answer the door, they broke it down and I foolishly picked up a knife.
I was convicted for brandishing a weapon against a police officer and was sentenced to 45 days in jail, serving 17 in maximum security. The ferret was found not guilty and we sent him to Mexico.
To bring this issue back to the present.
On May 3rd I received a call from someone who found a ferret in North Park or Hillcrest. My goal is to return the ferret to the rightful owner. So I had someone pick up the ferret and put out the word, including an ad on Craigslist, simply said:
It has been brought to our attention, through Craigslist, that you might be in possession of a ferret. Per California Code of Regulations T-14 Section 671(c)(2)(k); all ferrets are illegal to import, export, transport, maintain, sell, or possess in the State of California, except under a permit issued from the Department of Fish & Wildlife per CCR T-14 Section 671.1.
If you are in possession of a ferret, and do not possess a permit from the Department of Fish & Wildlife, you have one of the following three options:
1) Ship the animal out of state.
2) Return the animal to the point of origin, if outside of CA.
3) Destroy animals.
A little research on C Pourroy shows she makes a base salary of $79,198.96 and then nearly $40,000 in overtime. And she’s sitting on Craigslist looking for ferrets?
So I put another ad on Craigslist:
Dept of Fish and Wildlife Hates it when we post about FERRETS
Our tax dollars at work. How much?
Would you believe $127,840.
Free the Ferrets! http://www.legalizeferrets.org/
And I linked it to Ms. Pourroy’s warning letter.
Lo and behold on May 4th someone comes forward for the ferret via Facebook Messenger. A woman who says her name is Casey Cheyne. But Casey doesn’t have a picture of her ferret. She says she was taking her ferret to be spayed and her vet doesn’t want to get involved. (which was a red flag as I’ve never had an unspayed found ferret in California, they are already spayed when they reach the pet stores) She can’t identify an unusual marking on it. Her Facebook page is mysteriously incomplete. She doesn’t know anything about ferrets. She won’t send me any identification that she is who she says she is. Is this a Fish and Game sting?
On May 9th her final message:
Rocky would be ashamed at how biased and passive aggressive you’re being. This isn’t about safety or what’s right, it’s about what’s Wright. Take care. I am not the dramatic type.
I never mentioned Rocky to her. Obviously she’s done her own research.
Are Cyndy Pourroy and/or Casey Cheyne involved in fabricating the April 30th bite incident? Are they the same person?
I don’t know. I do find it curious that the exceptions you cited are based on government employment and attorney-client privilege. I fail to see how that applies to this situation without a little paranoia on my part. Is this a conspiracy? Please tell me it ain’t so!
Please further understand ferrets are domestic animals, legal in 48 states. When we tried to legalize them in California, thinking we were citizens of this state who actually mattered and had a voice, we were treated with hostility.
Fish and Wildlife dug in their heels, coming up with bizarre stories of ferrets attacking babies, biting machine gun style and drinking blood.
Don’t bark, kills birds and plenty of other reasons.
This whole thing is ridiculous and monstrously unfair.
And when I ask for a little information; who, what, why and where about an unexpected visit from the authorities regarding a made up ferret bite – I get such a non-answer. Well, you know why I am not satisfied but not surprised by this answer.
So let me put my response out there for everyone to see. This isn’t fair. Having been through the legal system I believe what Robert Blake said about his trial, “you’re innocent until proven broke” is very true.
We spent about $10,000 on our petition drive which ended in February. We only collected 10,000 signatures.
It did build up our organization, California’s ferret community is united and ready to change this stupid law.
We presented the petitions to Assemblyman Marc Levine’s office. Technically we are still waiting for a response from them. Except for our first phone call where they told us “No” to all requests – (Meet with us, hold a hearing, introduce a bill) the only time they’ve acknowledged us is when the news stations showed up at our rally outside his San Rafael office.
Could that $10,000 have been spent more effectively? Perhaps just giving the money to a politician? Well, we obviously can’t do that.
But what if we donated to legislative candidates this election? Why don’t we do what the big guys do and form a PAC (Political Action Committee)?
And that’s what we’ve done – The Ferret PAC. Our goal is to raise $3000 between April 2nd (National Ferret Day) and June 7th (date of the California primary).
Then we will survey candidates (including current legislators running for re-election) and see who will talk with us. With the survey coming from a real PAC we expect a better response.
And we’ll jointly select the top ten candidates and donate $250 each and try to buy a little influence on our own.
And if that doesn’t work we’ll be back with another petition campaign – done much differently that our earlier attempt. Stay tuned for details – I think I know a way to make it work!