June 17, 1998

 

The Honorable William L Gordon

Presiding Judge

Superior Court

PO Box 21107

Santa Barbara CA 93121-1107

Re: Response to Grand Jury Interim Final Report on Wildlife Management

 

Dear Judge Gordon:

 

On May 20, 1998, the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury issued their Interim Final Report on Wildlife Management. Finding 1 and Recommendations 1a and 1b were addressed to the Agricultural Commissionerís Office. This letter will serve as our response to this finding and recommendations.

 

Finding 1. The trapping of animals by the County Agricultural Commissioner complies with the State Fish and Game requirements. It is, however, a very slow process. This delay, due to a shortage of staff, contributes to the escalation of the problem.

 

Response. We agree with this finding. Although telephone calls are returned promptly and alternatives to trapping discussed with the public, at certain times during the year there is a waiting list for traps.

 

Recommendation 1a. Continue efforts to bring various interest groups together, including the City and County of Santa Barbara, California Department of Fish & Game and interested citizens, to develop a legal wild animal management plan for the urban area of the South Coast of Santa Barbara County.

 

Response. This recommendation has been implemented. A group consisting of representatives of the Agricultural Commissionerís Office, City Animal Control, County Animal Health and Regulation, and interested Citizens has met monthly since February. California Department of Fish and Game has been invited but has not attended these meetings. The focus of the group has been to discuss aspects of wildlife management within the legal requirement of the California Fish and Game Code and Fish and Game policies regarding relocation. This group will continue to meet.

Recommendation 1b. Initiate additional educational efforts with the participation of the City and County of Santa Barbara, California Department of Fish & Game, and interested Citizens, to encourage alternatives to the trapping and to discourage the illegal relocating to trapped animals by both departments and citizens.

 

Response. This recommendation has been implemented. The group described in our response to recommendation 1a also has been working on an educational campaign. The focus of this effort has been to educate the public on living around and near wildlife, avoiding domestication of wildlife and coexisting with wildlife. Brochures are being created and some have been distributed. This group will continue their work. We are hopeful that the efforts of this group will lead to: (1) a reduced wild animal population as non-natural food sources are removed, and (2) a reduction in calls to our office which will result in faster response times for truly problem animals. We will watch for positive results from these efforts before approaching the Board of Supervisors for additional staffing. The cost of a additional Wildlife Specialist would be $47,768 per year.

 

If you or the Grand Jury have any questions or concerns please let me know.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

William D. Gillette

Agricultural Commissioner/Director