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California SB 89 Passed the Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee!

Major Victory for California Ferret Owners

The following is a reprint of a June 9, 2004 release by Jeanne Carley of Californians for Ferret Legalization.

Today our bill passed the Assembly Water Parks and Wildlife Committee by a 12-1 vote in favor which means it has come the furthest it has ever come in 10 years. However, we are definitely
NOT out of the woods and faced opposition from Fish and Game, CA Waterfowl, Defenders of Wildife and the Planning and Conservation League.

Testifying in support was our terrific author Senator Dede Alpert whose comments were absolutely terrific and on target. Also testifying support besides Californians For Ferret Legalization were Mike Dillon for the California Veterinary Medical Association, Kevin
Pedrotti for the Pet Industries Joing Advisory Council, Virginia Handley from Fund for Animals, and an individual ferret supporter, Jim March. A big thanks to all of them!

We must still pass the Assembly Appropriations Committee and the full California State Assembly and the Governor so there are still three more hurdles to clear before your domesticated pets are granted amnesty here in California.

The bill as passed would require a one time fee of $75.00 per ferret and proof that the ferret is spayed/neutered and vaccinated against rabies. The ferret is then granted an amnesty card. Card carrying ferret(s) are protected for life. Should this bill pass, I encourage all of you to pay this fee to guarantee that your ferret is safe from confiscation, from the threat of a mean and vindictive neighbor, ex- spouse or ex-employee.

I know that those of you with many ferrets will find this fee a very large burden but keep in mind that each registered ferret is safe from the hands of Fish and Game. Also keep in mind that current permit holders pay almost $300.00 per ferret annually and face inspections!

The majority of your fee, $50.00 will go to a fund to complete an environmental document and the Fish and Game Commission MUST review this issue, the environmental document and public testimony in 2006. In other words, the ball will be rolling to lift this inane ban on this harmless domesticated pet.

The Committee Members voting in support of our bill were as follows:

Joseph Canciamilla, Chair Dem-11
Tim Leslie, Vice Chair Rep-4
Patty Berg Dem-1
Rick Keene Rep-3
Lynn Daucher Rep-72
Jackie Goldberg Dem-45
Shirley Horton Rep-78
Christine Kehoe Dem-76
Alan Lowenthal Dem-54
Barbara S. Matthews Dem-17
Todd Spitzer Rep-71
Lois Wolk Dem-8

Those opposed:

Nicole Parra Dem-30


Fran Pavley Dem-41
Rudy Bermudez Dem-56


Dario Frommer Dem-43

Active chapters of all of the California ferret organizations please mobilize to contact your Assemblymembers on SB 89.

If this will help you in writing your letters, please feel free to use any or all of it. It was my unedited testimony in front of the Water Parks and Wildlife Committee today. Remember to let your Assemblymembers know that in the absense of amnesty, which is long overdue, no ferret owner in California would pay a fee for an environmental document!

History of Legalization Efforts in California

The first ferret bill in California was introduced 10 years ago. Clearly this issue has some staying power.

You can now viisit any CA pet store and there will be a ferret isle with ferret specific products. Veterinarians can legally treat ferrets, 20% of all ferret food is sold here, and Ferrets Magazine
sells more copies in California than any other state. Ferrets are here, they've been here in large numbers for well over a decade, yet, there are not now, nor ever have been any documented feral populations of these pets either here in California or in the rest of the country. This fact was confirmed by our Department of Fish and Game in a 1997 nationwide survey. That's a distinction not shared by other domesticated pets.

Since the first ferret legalization bill in 1994, ferret owners in California have compromised again and again trying to work with the opposition and allay their concerns, in the end agreeing to the most restrictive pet ownership bill ever. Why? Because ferret owners crave the same legal status for themselves and their pets that owners of domesticated animals, including ferrets, enjoy in the rest of the country.

Ferret owners in California have had their pets taken away and sometimes destroyed. They've been fined, and in a few cases jailed. They are subject to blackmail by anyone angry at them for any reason. An ex-spouse, ex-girlfriend or boyfriend, or ex-employee has an easy target for their anger. It's happend time and time again.

It is important to remember that the animals we are talking about are legal in the rest of the country. It's also important to remember that they domesticated. Every authority including the
United States Department of Agriculture, Museum of Natural History, Humane Society of the United Sates and over 150 zoos and zoological societies refer to the ferret as domesticated. Even our own department of Fish and Game acknowledges this fact, yet, the ferret finds itself in the hands of a wildlife agency, specifically named in a section entitled the Importation, Transportation and Possession of Live Wild Animals. This makes no sense.

Shortly before the introduction of our first bill, the Fish and Game Commission removed two animals from the prohibited species list, the buffalo and camel, without an environmental document. Why were these animals removed? The Executive Director of the Fish and Game
Commission confirmed that they were removed because they were domesticated. They didn't belong in a list of prohibited wildlife. Neither does the ferret.

That is the principal reason why Californians routinely break this law. Ferret owners in California are the same as ferret owners in the other 48 states. They are not bad people, and they are not breaking the spirit of any law. The law is what is bad and the process to correct this law should begin today.

Please support this bill.

Jeanne Carley
Californians for Ferret Legalization