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Mayor and City Council of La Mesa come to California Ferret Lovers Side

At the September 26th meeting of the La Mesa city council a motion was on the agenda to grant La Mesa “ferret friendly” status. It could only by symbolic – but hugely so.

About 25 ferret lovers waited three hours to be heard at the La Mesa City Council meeting on September 26th

Life is good in ferret friendly La Mesa

Life is good in ferret friendly La Mesa

We knew we had two members on our side; councilwoman Kristine Alessio and councilman Bill Baber. How would the other members and mayor feel?

We designed our campaign around the concept that Life is Good in Ferret Friendly La Mesa.

We had artwork designed and a t-shirt produced. We spent $360 on Facebook ads to promote awareness of the effort.

Our goals was to have 12 to 24 people attend the meeting wearing the t-shirts to show support for the effort.

We set up a table outside the meeting room thinking our members would come and we’d give them a t-shirt.

Giving out “Life is Good in Ferret Friendly La Mesa” t-shirts prior to the city council meeting

But everyone wanted a t-shirt. A surprising number of people not affiliated with our group were familiar with ferrets and wanted a t-shirt. The camera man wanted a t-shirt. City staff wanted a t-shirt. There was a leadership campaign for young people, they wanted a t-shirt. We gave out about 50 t-shirts.

And we waited three hours outside for our item to be called.

And finally, about 9pm – we are up.

I wasn’t sure how it would go, but they called me up because I filled out a comment card.

I explained to the city council that a ferret friendly city status would be hugely helpful in our quest to get a legislator to sponsor a ferret legalization bill. I went on how we’ve worked for 30 years trying to legalize ferrets in California, and that these days it seems everyone seems to know someone who has a ferret.

I explained how the Fish and Game Commission calls them wild animals even though they know ferrets aren’t wild. That the Fish and Game Commission required us to spend $16,000 on an environmental report, and once that was submitted another $2500 on a CEQA document – and that it took them 7 years to read it.

I mentioned that the effort to legalize ferrets in California was a lesson in bad government but that the city of La Mesa could turn it around.

Any questions?

And the conversation got started.

Mayor Arapostathis and councilmember McWhiter were uncomfortable labeling the city “ferret friendly” but wanted to help. As a city government, they had contacts and would work them to find a legislative sponsor.

Councilmember Bill Baber will work on an official proclamation in favor of ferret legalization.

We were elated. Finally, an elected body listened to us and wanted to help.

La Mesa is a great city.

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La Mesa City Councilwoman Vows to Help Legalize Ferrets

La Mesa City Councilwoman Kristine Alessio

La Mesa City Councilman Bill Baber

City Councilwoman Kristine Alessio delighted us at our July 15th party by promising to help legalize ferrets. She has been discussing the issue with Assemblymen Todd Gloria and Randy Voepel, hoping to convince either or both to introduce ferret legalization legislation, but without much luck. Even though ferret legalization seems like a no-brainer, it just isn’t seen as a serious issue.

But the effort to make La Mesa a Ferret Sanctuary City builds steam. Surely a ridiculous concept but one with a huge symbolic value which could prompt a legislator to take up our cause. And surprisingly, we could be getting close.

What we know – Kristine Alessio would vote “Yes”

Bill Baber would probably vote “Yes” but he is more of a pragmatist.

Three other members on the city council – only one Democrat, Colin Parent.

Kristine and Bill are the only pet owners on the city council and that makes a big difference in one’s perception of the issue. Colin Parent is the Democrat’s only member on the council. I think he would have a hard time voting against the wishes of ordinary people who want to have a pet legal in 48 states and one where no one is defending the ban on the grounds that ferrets pose any kind of threat. I just don’t see a Democrat letting Republicans being the only advocates for “the little guy.”

I’m not familiar with the two other members, Vice Mayor Guy McWhirter or Mayor Mark Arapostathis. We’ll work on them after we secure three votes.

If this makes the agenda I know I can put up a very convincing presentation. I will need as many ferret lovers as possible holding up signs. Stay tuned. We’re going to have lots of fun with this one!

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Asking La Mesa, CA to be the Very First Ferret Sanctuary City

On Thursday (June 8th, 2017) I dropped off five large envelopes addressed to each member of the La Mesa city council. Here is the cover letter.

Since the Fish and Game President admits that they all know ferrets are domestic animals but they can’t move forward with de-listing them from the prohibited species list – this is a great way to get the discussion going.

And if we can actually get people to discuss ferrets we’ve already won. Each time it moves the argument further.

It’s only been a couple of days and no response. My neighbor is on the city council, I’ve called him and emailed him last week and haven’t heard anything. But let me give this another week and if we don’t hear anything I’ll ask for a little help from our members to generate some enthusiasm for this effort.

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Here’s the Scoop on Fish and Game

May 3rd, 2017

I had a phone conversation with Eric Sklar, the President of the Fish and Game Commission.

He explained that their hands are tied on ferrets because it would require a full-blown EIR. He said (and I think he meant this unofficially) that we would have to pay $200,000 but when all finished it would be $600,000.

And afterwards the Commission would be sued by environmental groups opposing it. (Is he calling the California Waterfowl Assoc an Environmental group).

He said that is a position that neither they nor us wish to be in.

Our best option he said is to find a legislator. I explained the past futility of our efforts.

But if the Fish and Game Commission gives us a nudge, I’m going to predict success.

I asked him to write a letter explaining to legislators that this is the only way forward. He seems like he wants to do this and will check with his staff.

I will contact him in one week seeing if we get this favor.

Keep in mind, in past legislative efforts Fish and Game opposed us. This time around we would expect some support on their end.

I appreciate Mr. Sklar’s time and opinion, not to mention his willingness to work with us.

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Ferret Owners Made an Impression at the Fish and Game Commission Meeting

The California Fish and Game Commission held their bi-monthly meeting April 26-27 in Van Nuys and our petition requesting they actually issue permits for ferrets (as they can by law) was item #17 on April 26th.

We did a lot of preparation for this.  An open letter to the Commissioners was published. Letters of support was sought from all members of the Legislature’s Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee.  Ads were run on Facebook and Bing.  We made signs and encouraged as many people to come as possible.

A few days prior to the meeting, Fish and Game wildlife research staff published their recommendations:

Short Description Staff Recommendations
Requests FGC issue permits for ferrets under certain circumstances. Deny: FGC has previously indicated that it will not authorize wild animals to be possessed as pets.

It takes a lot of something to call our ferrets “wild animals” and personally I found that line to be very offensive.

So we put out the word, email or call the Fish and Game Commission and let them know you’re not happy. And apparently, many people did.

About 20 ferret lovers came to the meeting, but since we didn’t know when our issue would be heard it was an all-day affair some people had to leave.

And we listened to a lot of testimony on bull frogs as invasive species and gps for hunting dogs.  And finally, at about 3 in the afternoon they got to our issue.

President Sklar limited our comments to 1 minute per person which I thought terribly unfair. Yes, we’d heard a lot of people testify, many not making that much sense on other issues.

13 people signed up to testify. Many of the people who testified on other issues testified on our behalf. Only Bill Gaines from the California Waterfowl Association testified against ferrets. He waited outside the room and then came in last minute to say how ferrets were introduced into New Zealand and how much damage they did.

Then they went on to other petitions.  And adjourned.  What is going on?

I was there and I didn’t see it . But apparently they lumped all the petitions together and voted them all down.

But people aren’t laughing at us. They’re laughing at the Fish and Game Commission for insisting ferrets are wild animals. Despite all the facts to the contrary, everyone, including people at the Fish and Game Commission understand these are domestic animals.

Big Surprise at the End

Fish and Game President Erik Sklar called me on Friday afternoon to schedule a talk. I have his permission to say that much. But I don’t think he would call me if there weren’t major cracks in ferret ban.

I’m back to thinking what a big party we’ll have once this is over!

Some of our supporters at the April 26th Fish and Game meeting.

Some of our supporters at the April 26th Fish and Game meeting.

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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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