obscenely fawning media coverage).
One thing I am grateful for, though, is the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance. COHA was formed by California Waterfowl in 2006 to lobby on behalf of the hunting community, and it now enjoys the support of literally dozens of the state's hunting organizations and businesses.
When I need to know what's going on with some hunting-related policy matter, I call my friends at COHA, and they never let me down - they're always on it.
A proposed ban on hunting on levees in Sutter County? Hey, that would've sharply curtailed my cottontail hunting in wildlife areas along rivers there! COHA was on it and the county agreed to modify its proposal to allow hunting on the wildlife area-side of the levees.
Teaming up to fight poaching? Hell yes. COHA sponsored a bill this year to increase penalties for serious poaching violations, including when poachers intentionally target trophy game outside of the regular season, hunt without the required tag or stamp, hunt with spotlights, hunt over bait or waste game meat. Violations like this are the scourge of hunting, and I'm proud that COHA is taking a stand against them. Now if we can just get the Legislature to go along with it - the bill is stuck in an appropriations committee.
How about water for ducks? Yep. COHA was on that, too. Another bill in the Legislature this year would've imposed a charge on water suppliers, including a charge based on each acre of land irrigated for agricultural purposes. This fee could be a strong disincentive for landowners to maintain waterfowl habitat on their land. This bill - happily, in this case - is also stuck in an appropriations committee, due in part to COHA's efforts.
COHA also lobbied against long-gun registration, which, unfortunately, was signed into law this year after previous attempts failed when they reached Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk. (Yep, with Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown in office now, California has one-party rule again. I'm really not a fan of one-party rule, regardless of the party, and this is one reason why: Dumb things become law.)
I've got literally 14 pages of bills and proposals that COHA lobbied on - you can see details for yourself here. You know where I'm going with this, folks: Lobbying ain't free. If you hunt in California, you need to support the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance, because whether you know it or not, COHA is already working for you.
Most hunters I know hate politics and I get it - it's a frustrating business. I used to cover it when I was a newspaper reporter and editor, and I really don't miss it. But if you don't want to get involved personally, please at least support the organization that's doing it for you.
And after you've clicked here to make a donation (like I just did), please send a link to this post to your friends who hunt and ask them to do the same. While we're all busy hunting ducks, turkeys, pigs, bears or whatever, COHA will be hard at work preserving our rights to keep hunting.
© Holly A. Heyser 2011