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Our Letter to the California Waterfowl Assoc

LegalizeFerrets.org
PO Box 1480
La Mesa, CA 91944
619-303-0645

 

April 19, 2017

  • Chair, California Waterfowl Association
    L. Ryan Broddrick
  • President, California Waterfowl Association
    John Carlson

California Waterfowl Association
1346 Blue Oaks Blvd,
Roseville, CA 95678

Dear Mr. Broddrick and Mr Carlson,

The California Waterfowl Association has always been on hand to oppose us when we bring ferret legalization efforts in front of the California Fish and Game Commission.

While having concerns are justified, speaking out against our efforts to legalize an admittedly domestic pet of our choice without any documentation to support your views is not.

You are both former high ranking officials with California Fish and Game.  California Fish and Game used to be hostile or indifferent to our efforts.

From their official records:

  • August 3, 2011, Commission meeting – Public Forum testimony – Commissioners indicated they were not interested in considering this matter; because other matters of higher importance currently exist.

The new administration has responded to our requests and has treated us like we too, matter.

We hope they will accept our petition at their Wednesday meeting in Van Nuys and once again start issuing permits for ferrets.

You obviously understand the importance of defending your right to hunt and fish, why do you actively work to oppose our right to own a domestic animal; legal in 48 states without one feral ferret ever being documented in the United States?

Those animals you refer to in New Zealand were repeatedly introduced there and crossed with their wild kin; European polecats.  Those are not the animals we want as pets.  Domestic ferrets are legal and not a pest in England, I don’t know where Mark got his information.  Feral polecat/ferret hybrids are a pest on the Shetland Islands, but California is not an island ecosystem.

Enclosed please find the signatures of 946 people asking you to reevaluate your opposition to ferret legalization.

Please either document your concerns or stop working against our efforts to change a bad law that has no basis in science, liberty or even fairness.

Sincerely,

 

Pat Wright
LegalizeFerrets.org

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Assemblyman Kansen Chu, We Expected Better

Advocate for the under dog? Not the under ferret. You can reach Assemblyman Kansen Chu’s office at (916) 319-2025

I just had one of the most stupid conversations I’ve had while working for ferret legalization.

Eric Turner, who is Assemblyman Chu’s designated contact person regarding this issue, at least that is what his office told me when I made first contact with them on February 14th, finally got in touch with me.

Multiple phone calls, emails and even a tweet were ignored.

So we spent $23.75 for to express an envelope to him trying to get a response. And to his credit, Eric called me three times before we made contact.

His message?

Assemblyman Chu will be unable to sign on to our letter. We asked for a letter of support regarding our petition now in front of the Fish and Game Commission. The petition once again asks for the Commission to issue permits so people can legally possess ferrets in California.

Eric told me that while the ferret ban doesn’t seem based in the best science Assemblyman Chu can’t sign on to the letter. “There are people for and against this and he doesn’t want to sign on.”

For and Against? Who is against this? I asked. “It’s a matter of us, being a small group, being able to get enough attention. If there is opposition to ferret legalization I’d like to know who it is.”

And Eric was not able to tell me who opposes ferret legalization.

Do you know what really gets my goat? Phonies. People who pretend to be what they’re not. This is from Assemblyman Chu’s website:

Assemblymember Kansen Chu was elected in November 2014 to represent California’s 25th Assembly District, which includes the Alameda County communities of Fremont and Newark, and the Santa Clara County communities of Milpitas, San José and Santa Clara. During his first year in the State Assembly, Assemblymember Chu served as the Chair of the Human Services Committee, where he fought for the most vulnerable among us, including children, seniors and the disabled.

Fought for the most vulnerable among us…all he left off were the veterans. I’ve heard this crap before. But when it comes to action, to help those who really need it, we get nothing.

So we’re calling you out Assemblyman Chu. Don’t pretend to serve the public. We’re the public.

Either sign the letter or give us the real reason. As the old Fish and Game Commission said (official record)

• August 3, 2011, Commission meeting – Public Forum testimony – Commissioners indicated they were not interested in considering this matter; because other matters of higher importance currently exist.

We do matter. We aren’t going anywhere. You had the chance to do the right thing but didn’t.

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Video of Fish and Game Commission Rejecting Ferret Legalization Petition

Here is what went down on October 20th, 2016 when the Fish and Game Commission voted to deny our petition to remove ferrets from the prohibited species list.

Notice there was no discussion and the vote was unanimous.

Stay tuned.  We do have a few options and we are pursuing all of them.

 

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Fish and Game Commission Kills our Ferret Legalization Petition

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

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.

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Fish and Game Comments Regarding Ferret Legalization

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.

Stay tuned.

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We Have a Real Chance at Ferret Legalization

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.

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Turning Point for Ferret Legalization

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!

Read the article here

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Key Fish and Game Meeting for California Ferret Lovers

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

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

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.

And in 2010 we submitted an official report that they refused to accept.

And now they use that against us.

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!

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Fish and Game Commission Wildlife Staff Recommends “DENY” to our Petition for Regulation Change

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

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.

Join Us – Here is the Facebook Event

Thursday, August 25 at 12 PM – 4 PM

Lake Natoma Inn Hotel & Conference Center, 702 Gold Lake Dr. Folsom, CA 95630

For more information please call LegalizeFerrets.org at 619-303-0645

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My Open Letter to Eric C McDonald MD, MPH

Please Note – here is the link to the Public Records Response Act that I received and that this is in response to.

July 3rd, 2016

An Open Letter to Eric C McDonald MD, MPH

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.

animalcontrol

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:

Found ferret – email to identify.

And I received A letter from Lieutenant C. Pourroy,  CA Department of Fish & Wildlife:

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.

PET EUROPEAN FERRETS: A HAZARD TO PUBLIC HEALTH, SMALL LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE

But that isn’t our experience. Ferrets are little clowns. They bring us life and joy in a sometimes dreary world.

And research agrees with us.

  • No feral ferrets
  • Safest interactive pets next to guinea pigs
  • 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.

This letter didn’t cost me a dime.
Sincerely,

Pat Wright

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