August 11, 1998

 

The Honorable Frank Ochoa

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 Ochoa:

 

The Board of Supervisors wishes to thank the Grand Jury for their dedication and work which resulted in their Interim Final Report on Wildlife Management, issued on May 20, 1998.

 

Two findings and five recommendations in the report were addressed to the respective County offices and to the Board of Supervisors as follows:

Finding 1 and Recommendations 1a and 1b, were addressed to the Board of Supervisors and the Agricultural Commissionerís Office.

At its meeting of August 11, 1998, the Board of Supervisors adopted the Agricultural Commissionerís response (Attachment 1) and hereby forwards it to your Honorable Judge and to the Grand Jury.

 

Finding 3 and Recommendations 3a, 3b and 3c were addressed to the Board of Supervisors and the Environmental Health Division of the Health Care Services Department.

At its meeting of August 11, the Board of Supervisors also adopted the Director of Health Care Services responses to Recommendations 3a, 3b and 3c (Attachment 2) and hereby forwards it to your Honorable Judge and to the Grand Jury.

The Board of Supervisors adopted the following response to Finding 3:

Finding 3: The Santa Barbara County Animal Control wildlife management practices are inconsistent. They are repeatedly changed at the whim of Co. Environmental Health Services management. The Fish and Game Code requires that all healthy wildlife trapped and turned over to the County must be euthanized. The relocation of these animals is not to be done without a permit from the DFG. At the present time, no organization is permitted to do so within the county.

 

Board of Supervisorís response to Finding 3: Partially agree with this finding

 

The Board agrees with the finding in all respects except the statement that the wildlife management practices are repeatedly changed at the whim of Environmental Health Services management.

 

The Grand Jury notes that the Fish and Game Code states that all healthy wildlife trapped and turned over to the County must be euthanized or released. The Code also allows rehabilitation and release of trapped wildlife by private citizen groups with approval from the Department of Fish and Game (DFG). The management of Environmental Health services did not act whimsically but rather sought assistance from the DFG in the practice and procedures used to comply with both of these provisions of the Code.

 

Up to March 23, 1998 the Environmental Health Services (EHS) management permitted certain trapped injured and healthy wildlife to be turned over for rehabilitation and release to a local rescue group based on long standing past practice. EHS management sought clarification on this practice from the State Department of Fish and Game. EHS management, after learning that the Department of Fish and Game did not support the release of trapped healthy wildlife to local rescue groups, then issued its memorandum of March 23, 1998, advising that all such wildlife would be humanely destroyed. This memorandum complies with the Grand Juryís recommendations regarding the release of trapped healthy wildlife.

 

As a postscript, it is noted that subsequent to the issuance of the Grand Juryís report, the State Department of Fish and Game issued a clarifying letter (Attachment 3) to the Environmental Health Services authorizing the release of trapped healthy opossums to the local rescue group, which already had a DFG permit to rehabilitate and release opossums.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

 

Gail Marshall

Chair, Board of Supervisors