Peter Fimrite, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
The sudden resignation of the most adamant defender of hunting and fishing on the California Fish and Game Commission could put the finishing touches on a sweeping philosophical shift in the way the state views wildlife, sets rules for fishing and controls predators like mountain lions and wolves.
Commissioner Jim Kellogg retired in late December in frustration over what he termed a lack of consideration for the sportsmen and women he represents. The resignation — combined with the unrelated recent departures of commission President Jack Baylis and Sonke Mastrup, the commission’s executive director — sets the stage for Gov. Jerry Brown to appoint conservationists to the increasingly pivotal state board.
Such a move may, observers say, complete the transformation of the commission from an organization that advocates for fishing and hunting to one that safeguards endangered species, preserves habitat and protects California’s top predators from slaughter.
But it won’t happen without a fight. While environmentalists say they are finally getting a fair shake in the high-stakes political game of wildlife management, advocates for outdoor sports fear that they have lost their voice and that the role they have played in the protection of species is being forgotten.
The five-member commission, whose job is to recommend policies to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, has been wading through divisive issues that could profoundly impact the future of the state, including what to do about diminishing salmon populations, sick sea lions and disappearing sea otters.
How California responds to growing numbers of wolves, coyotes and mountain lions is a central battle. The question is whether the predators should be tolerated or encouraged — or driven away by guard dogs or gunned down when they get too close to people or livestock.
Historically, the commission has been made up almost entirely of hunters and fishermen, but that focus has changed in the past several years.
Read more at: Fish and Game upheaval reveals shift in state wildlife policy – San Francisco Chronicle