Few bills at the state Capitol in 2012 received as much attention, or were fought over more, than the legislation to ban the use of dogs in hunting bears and bobcats.
That debate will likely continue with opponents of the proposal, after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the hunting ban into law Wednesday afternoon.
The law -- which goes into effect on January 1, 2013 -- makes California one of only 15 states to ban hound hunting for black bears, one of only 14 states to do so for hunting bobcats.
"The legislative process works, says Jennifer Fearing, state director of the Humane Society of the United States. "We've had to achieve some of these hunting reforms through the ballot box in other states."
Fearing was the driving force behind Senate Bill 1221, authored by state Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance. She acknowledges that some saw the fight as a classic battle of hunters versus non-hunters, rural California versus urban California. But she says that the governor's decision is in line with popular opinion.
"83 percent of Californians when polled support an end to this practice, and more than 13,000 people used our website alone in the last month to contact the governor," says Fearing.
Opponents of the proposal were a common site in Capitol hallways this past spring and summer, their orange signs emblazoned with slogans of hunting rights being killed "one bill at a time" in Sacramento.
State statistics show some 1,500 bears were killed in California in 2010, a 20 percent decrease from 2009. 45 percent of those bears, according to a legislative analysis of the bill, were killed with the use of dogs. Only 11 percent of bobcats were killed using chasing hounds.