National

Dec 25, 2012 4:00 PM by AP Posted by Tony Spehar

Calif. ban draws interest in using hounds to hunt

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California is ending an age-old tradition in which dogs are used to hunt bobcats and bears.

A new law that takes effect with the New Year bans the practice that critics contend is cruel and unsportsmanlike.

Houndsmen use dogs to track a bear and chase it up a tree, where hunters can get a good shot. However, for many houndsmen and their dogs, the thrill is in the chase, and they release the bear unharmed.

Seventeen states still permit the use of hounds to hunt bears, while 15 ban the practice. The other 18 do not allow bear hunting.

Supporters reported an increase in interest in the practice in the final months before California's ban takes effect.

California's bear season closed nearly two weeks early after hunters reached their limit of 1,700 bears.

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