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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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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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