Supervisors distribute Fish & Game fines amid opposition

$2,000 earmarked for a junior pheasant hunt prompts objections from some people

bcuddy@thetribunenews.comNovember 13, 2012 

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday went ahead and distributed money from California Fish & Game fines in the way a county committee suggested, but said it wants to hear a more detailed explanation of how the committee arrives at its recommendations when this question comes up again next year.

As it does every year, the supervisors distributed money collected from the fines. Usually, as County Administrative Officer Dan Buckshi noted, the process has been routine and not controversial.

This year the county was looking to divvy up $15,000, which is half the money the state took in from San Luis Obispo County. The state keeps the other half.

Supervisors have a fines committee, appointed by the board, to do the grunt work of deciding who should get what, and they generally follow the committee’s recommendations.

However, several people spoke Tuesday in opposition, especially to $2,000 earmarked for a junior pheasant hunt.

Speakers said there are ways to spend money other than teaching youngsters “blood sports,” as speaker Linde Owen of Los Osos described it.

However, Supervisor Frank Mecham pointed out that the money was designed to teach youngsters how to use firearms safely.

Several speakers said Pacific Wildlife Care, which rehabilitates birds and animals, should receive more than the $500 the committee recommended.

Supervisor Jim Patterson said the money is being broadly distributed in ways that benefit young people and wildlife. The committee recommended, for example, that roughly $2,500 go to field equipment for habitat studies involving elk, pronghorn, kit foxes, western pond turtles, and marbled murrelets.

An additional $500 will be used to build and place nesting boxes around San Luis Obispo County in an effort to increase the wood duck population, and other funds will go to various habitat improvement and education programs.

Nonetheless, although they unanimously approved this year’s list, supervisors were sympathetic to the misgivings of those who spoke, and said they will work with their committee to get answers as to how it makes decisions.

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