Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Chuck Bonham is a nice guy, based on his friendly, outgoing demeanor. But we don’t need a “nice guy” in charge of California fish and wildlife, we need a leader who has knowledge of fish and wildlife needs and how to manage them. Chuck Bonham is not that person.
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Throughout his tenure at the DFW, Bonham has ignored the concept of sound resource management and tried to walk the political tightrope between pleasing the governor, legislative lefties and animal rights advocates and sportsmen. When it comes to sportsmen, he has failed on every front.
First, he remained silent during the debate on SB 1221, resulting in the banning of the use of hounds for hunting bear and bobcat. He knew full well that scientifically, the use of hounds for hunting bears was an important tool in keeping their numbers in check, but he never spoke up, showing his support of the bill, which was backed by animal-rights activists like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
Director Bonham also canceled the free DFW hunting clinics for the public, designed for introducing the young and new hunters to the sports, also through pressure by HSUS.
One of his greatest failures, and most obvious animal-rights move, was his new restrictions on handling of mountain lion attacks, sightings and killings, requiring staff to use “non-lethal” methods. In this, he put the general public, their pets and livestock and children in lethal danger.
His support of AB 711, the ban on the use of all lead ammo for hunting in California, and his letter in support of passage, was the final blow to sportsmen in California. AB 711 would not be law if he had not sent his letter of support with amendments. Even the DFW law enforcement branch was not in support of AB 711 — and said as much publicly.
The current direction of the Department of Wildlife under Director Chuck Bonham is not in support of sportsmen, but even worse, it is not in support of the fisheries and wildlife of this state. His direction is based on appeasing the animal-rights organizations, and not on science or proven wildlife management principles.
As such, DFW Director Chuck Bonham should resign, or failing that, he should be removed from office and replaced immediately, before California’s precious wildlife and resources suffer even more.
Bill Karr, a Placerville resident, is Northern California editor of Western Outdoor News.