WEATHER »

Ray Ford

Dogs Versus Hunters in the Backcountry

A Closer Look at the Issues Facing Two Groups of Trail Users


Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Article Tools
Print friendly
E-mail story
Tip Us Off
iPod friendly
Comments
Share Article

When 25-year-old Nick Krueter and 32-year-old Samuel Lowe got up early on Tuesday morning, January 15, in Brea, California, they were heading up to the Santa Barbara backcountry for a day of hunting. From various accounts, it appears they arrived at the Upper Oso area about dawn and headed up the Santa Cruz Trail to hunt for pigs.

Hunters Krueter and Lowe shortly after Krueter shot and killed Billy the Dog.
Click to enlarge photo

Courtesy

Hunters Krueter and Lowe shortly after Krueter shot and killed Billy the Dog.

Though not a particularly good area for pig hunting, apparently the nearby private land at Rancho San Fernando Rey is. Stephen Nellis, a hunter and a dog owner, described Santa Barbara County as one of the “top five” spots for pigs. “But more than 90 percent of the land where you’ll find them is private,” he noted. “There’s some thought that some of the pigs may wander off San Fernando Rey and down into the drainage where the Santa Cruz Trail climbs up to Little Pine Mountain.”

Kreuter and Lowe spent the morning somewhere in the vicinity of a small hiker’s camp known as Nineteen Oaks or in the area above it. At some point in the early morning, they decided to head back to Upper Oso. At about 11 a.m. as they rounded a corner, they spotted two dogs heading toward them. According to the Sheriff’s report, one of the dogs barked and acted in an aggressive manner, frightening the hunters enough that one of them took aim and fired, resulting in the death of a 40-pound dog named Billy.

Billy the Dog
Click to enlarge photo

Billy the Dog

Though the two hunters have not responded to repeated requests to discuss the incident or share their side of the story, the shooting ignited a firestorm of controversy. Many blamed the hunters, with others faulting the dog owner for not having the two animals on a leash. Mostly, though, the incident brought up a boatload of questions: Why hunt so close to a high-use recreation area and on one of the most popular trails in the Santa Ynez River area? Did the pair have hunting licenses? Pig tags? Were they required to have some sort of hunter education? What type of threat would be required for the hunter to take a dog’s life? What type of responsibility does the Forest Service have to monitor either hunters or dog users? Should the dogs have been on leash?

Forest Rules

I sat down with Pancho Smith, district ranger for the Santa Barbara District of Los Padres Forest, to discuss some of these issues. “It was a tragic situation,” Smith explained. “Two hunters on the trail in an area where it was perfectly legal to hunt, a trail runner coming up the trail with his dogs, both off leash, but also perfectly legal to do — an incredibly sad and emotionally impacting thing for both sides.”

“There are restrictions for both when they’re within the Santa Ynez Recreation Area,” Smith added. “Inside it dogs are required to be on leash, and it is illegal to discharge a weapon there, as well.” In addition, in 2011, after receiving complaints from a number of canyon visitors, bow hunting was also prohibited in the most highly used parts of the recreation area where the campgrounds are located.

Outside the area, while hunting is legal during the appropriate seasons (pig season is year-round), there is a prohibition on shooting in Los Padres Forest within 150 yards of a residence, building, campsite, on or across a road or body of water, or in any manner or place where a person or property is exposed to injury or damage as a result of such discharge.

“I’ve always wondered what exactly these words mean?” Nellis questioned. “Do trails count as developed sites or potentially occupied areas where a person or property could be exposed to injury?” No, according to the district ranger.

Map at SB Ranger District showing Recreation boundary where shooting is prohibited.
Click to enlarge photo

Ray Ford

Map at SB Ranger District showing Recreation boundary where shooting is prohibited.

While it is clear that the hunters were on a part of the Santa Cruz Trail that was outside the recreation area and well beyond Nineteen Oaks Camp, some questioned if it was appropriate for them to be carrying loaded weapons on the way back to their cars, had an awareness that they might meet other users on the trail, or were prepared for such an encounter.

“That brings me to another point,” Nellis added. “We shouldn’t be talking just about what’s legal, but what’s wise. I rarely, if ever, hunt on weekends, and I never, ever hunt except in the designated wilderness areas. Even then, there are some wilderness areas — Manzana Creek out in San Rafael is a good example — where I only go when I know the traffic will be low. I also always go off-trail to do my shooting and keep track of where the trail is so I’m not shooting toward it. That’s basic safety stuff.”

Nellis also emphasized the idea of “positive target identification” — a concept that focuses on shooting only when you are 100 percent sure of your target. “I heard that one of the hunters thought he was about to be attacked by a wild dog,” he said, “but I don’t know of too many wild dogs out there with bright orange collars around their necks. I’ve certainly been spooked by people’s dogs while on the trail, but I’ve never come close to shooting one, especially on a trail where you would expect to see them.”

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, all hunters are required to have a valid hunting license, and to get one, a California certificate of hunter education completion or equivalent with a unique number imprinted on it is required. There are numerous online courses. Hunter-ed.com, for instance, offers courses in 33 states, including California. The class costs $24.50, and you aren’t required to pay until you pass and want to download the certificate required for a license.

However, in surveying the course outline at Hunter-ed and others, while they appear to be well designed, none of them provide information about interacting with other recreational users or their dogs. “There’s a really heavy burden on the hunter to know where people are and to plan accordingly,” Nellis explained, “In the Southern California forests, hunters are out in places where there are a lot of other people, especially where there are trails like Santa Cruz that lead directly out of popular recreation areas. The safety courses ought to include issues relating to those type of areas.”

Dog Owner Responsibilities

Not everyone feels the hunters were the problem, however. “I’m not making a judgment on this particular situation, but it has been my experience that most dog owners believe their animal can do no wrong,” an online Independent reader who goes by the handle “Igj” commented. “The owners know the personality of their animal, strangers don’t. When an owner says his animal ‘would have stopped barking,’ is there some reason that the person that was being barked at should have known that?

“If an owner can’t keep his animal within sight, it’s prudent to keep it on a leash. This is a very unfortunate accident,” Igj continued, “but to make the assumption that this hunter should have known that this large barking dog was ‘harmless’ without having seen it before is not right.”

As it turns out, having off-leash dogs in the forest is completely legal as long as they are outside the recreation area. “There is no leash requirement in general forest areas,” said Andrew Madsen, Los Padres Forest public information officer. “The key concept is that forests are natural open areas, unlike parks which are controlled and have a different purpose.” Ranger Smith echoed that but also noted the importance of dogs being under owner control. “It’s both a health and safety issue,” he explained, “and there should be enough control that they aren’t chasing wildlife.”

Smith uses what he called an “electronic collar” on his own dog. The collar is capable of providing a small shock that can be used as a type of adverse therapy to control behavior. The more expensive ones also can be set to vibrate or beep modes as well. “It only took using the shock button twice when the dog took off after a jack rabbit,” Smith noted. “Now I have it set so that it beeps. Any time I need him to come back to me, I hit the button.”

Use of shock collars are extremely controversial, and a number of animal welfare organizations, among them the Humane Society, warn against their use or actively support a ban on their use or sale. “At best, they are unpleasant for your dog,” the Humane Society says, “and at worst, they may cause your dog to act aggressively and even bite you. Positive training methods should always be your first choice.”

Elderly women hiking on the trail up to Nineteen Oaks.
Click to enlarge photo

Ray Ford

Elderly women hiking on the trail up to Nineteen Oaks.

Agency Rules — Lax Enforcement

One of the major issues creating confusion regarding leash laws is the multiplicity of agencies responsible for managing public lands in Santa Barbara County and the relatively lax enforcement of leash laws by most of the agencies. Though dogs may be off leash in a good part of Los Padres Forest, that isn’t the case when it comes to California State Parks, Santa Barbara County Parks, or any of the various city parks. Almost universally, with the exception of specific open space areas such as the Douglas Preserve, private preserves like Elings Park, or a section of the shoreline east of Arroyo Burro Beach, dogs are required to be on a leash no more than six feet long.

However, the problem is that, for the most part, in almost all publicly managed areas with leash laws, they are not enforced. “We just don’t have the park resources to enforce leash laws,” says Jill Zachary, assistant director of Parks & Recreation for the City of Santa Barbara. “We deal with dogs off leash on a complaint-driven basis. When there’s a problem, we deal with it.” Zachary also added that City Parks does encourage dogs to be on leash when in any of their parks, including ones such as Rattlesnake Canyon, which is officially a city-designated wilderness park, and expect dogs to be under control whether on or off leash.

Off-Leash Norm

This lack of enforcement has led most dog owners to assume that it’s okay to have their dogs off leash. Because the Forest Service has maintained front country trails such as Tunnel, Rattlesnake, Cold Springs, San Ysidro, and others for decades, most users assume Los Padres Forest off-leash rules apply on these trails as well as the backcountry areas. But that isn’t true. Almost 70 percent of the front-country trails are actually on City of Santa Barbara land and, as such, are subject to the city’s leash laws.

Many of these trails also cross over multiple jurisdictions, confusing things even further. Jesusita Trail, for instance, begins on Bureau of Reclamation land, then crosses city property, heads through land under county jurisdiction, enters Los Padres Forest, and then crosses back into the city at the other end in Mission Canyon.

Jurisdictional confusion and lack of enforcement have effectively led to a system of public trails on which most of the dogs are off leash and where few of the dog owners have a clear understanding of what the rules are. While this has worked for the most part on the more urban trails, in the case of the backcountry trails — especially those where hunting is allowed — this may not be the case.

Need to Increase Awareness

The trip over San Marcos Pass and down Paradise Road a few miles to the beginning of the Santa Ynez Recreation Area is a short one, less than a half hour from downtown to the edge of wilderness. There is a distinct difference on this side of the mountain. The feeling is much more rural — there’s an actual river that flows through the area and campgrounds and picnic areas abound. The Santa Ynez Recreation Area is host to a hundred thousand or more visitors a year, a great many of them in the spring and summer, but a good number in the winter months as well. You’ll not only find campers but fishermen, mountain bikers heading up to Little Pine Mountain, off-highway vehicle (OHV) enthusiasts, and plenty of hikers. And hunters, too.

Large sign near lower Snyder Trail notes prohibition against hunting in the recreation area.
Click to enlarge photo

Ray Ford

Large sign near lower Snyder Trail notes prohibition against hunting in the recreation area.

Unfortunately, information relating to hunting — either for hunters or the general public — is hard to come by. Not too far into the river canyon there’s a huge sign near the start of the Snyder Trail proclaiming “NO HUNTING WITHIN THE RECREATION AREA” and an additional kiosk with other signs posted on it. It has information about the Adventure Pass, fire danger, cultural resources, and the like but nothing about the “rules of the road” relating to hunting.

Los Prietos Ranger Station, where one might expect to get more information, is just further up the road. While there are maps and other flyers on the kiosk boards outside the office, including a faded notice that bow hunting is illegal inside the recreation area, there is little else to make visitors aware that hunters could pose a danger to them or their dogs if they hike or bike the trails leading out of the recreation area. Nor is their any information on the kiosk at Upper Oso, the trailhead leading to the Santa Cruz Trail where Billy the dog was shot and killed.

“The Santa Barbara Ranger District is basically a day-use area,” District Ranger Pancho Smith said. “Many who come up to the Santa Ynez River do so on the spur of the moment, when they have a few hours for a short hike or bike ride. Often they’ll have their dogs with them and are focused on enjoying a few minutes in the forest not the potential dangers that they might encounter.”

Kiosk at Upper Oso has no information about hunting at the start of the trail to Nineteen Oaks.
Click to enlarge photo

Ray Ford

Kiosk at Upper Oso has no information about hunting at the start of the trail to Nineteen Oaks.

I asked District Ranger Pancho Smith about what he thinks the Forest Service can do to prevent something like a dog being shot from happening again. He sat back and thought about it for a minute. “It’s really tough to figure out what to do about something that appears to be an isolated incident,” he admitted. “I’m not trying to be callous, but there are so many things we’re expected to do and we have so few staff.” He noted that there hasn’t been a recreation officer for the Santa Barbara District for more than a year, and there are no plans to hire one any time soon. Then he paused for another moment and added, “I know people won’t want to hear this, but how much time can I spend on something that almost never is likely to happen again?”

I suggested to him that he may be right, but what if information were provided at the trailheads so that everyone is aware of the potential dangers relating to hunting and be able to prepare better for them? I ran through a number of suggestions that have been passed on to me: Small kiosks at each of the trailheads that lead outside the recreation area where hunting is legal with maps clearly delineating the boundary; signs at the actual boundaries so that hunters, hikers, and mountain bikers know where they are; and perhaps an 8.5” x 11” pamphlet available outside the district office and at the trailheads designed to share information about hunting and what everyone can do to ensure another accident like this doesn’t happen again.

Couple just finishing hike up to Nineteen Oaks with baby. They had no idea hunting was legal there.
Click to enlarge photo

Ray Ford

Couple just finishing hike up to Nineteen Oaks with baby. They had no idea hunting was legal there.

Smith pointed to a chalkboard near his office door. There is a list of four or five things he’s prioritized for action in the near future. “First thing on that list is to work on rewriting the description for the Lower Santa Ynez Recreation boundary so everyone — hunters, hikers, and other users — will know exactly where the boundary is. I’m open to whatever we can do to ensure an accident like this doesn’t happen again,” Smith said. “If there is something we can make work with the limited resources I have available to me, let’s see what we can do.”

Comments

Independent Discussion Guidelines

The hunters have their smart faces on in that photo.

cmetzenberg (anonymous profile)
April 9, 2013 at 3:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Hunter Nellis makes good sense. The two hunters from Brea, wisely remaining silent, likely did not know the area well and really were startled by the dogs.
There just isn't much to hunt up there past 19 Oaks and out on the ocean-facing side of Little Pine Mountain. Let's make it easy for Ranger Smith: ban hunting on the frontside of Little Pine. Or, conversely, ban the dogs on the frontside.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
April 9, 2013 at 5:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)

KV and I can testify that the rock that covered up St. Billie the Dog was moved aside a little over a week ago to reveal a now empty hole. In spite of our wine fueled 24 hour vigilance, we are unable to report exactly how the stone was moved. This Herculean act appeared to be imposed by something other than some big strong men or a fork lift.
bc fell asleep as usual.

Actually, this was a pretty good article.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
April 9, 2013 at 6:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Perhaps we should have a letter writing campaign to newspapers in Brea. Those of us who are apalled that hunters had a loaded gun and shot and killed a pet dog is horrible. It's a dangerous situation. Let them know what their residents did to our community.

Hold them responsible for their actions. I don't care if it wasn't posted or they didn't know the rules or if they could legally carry a loaded gun and hunt there.

He recklessly shot someone's pet dog when the dog had a collar and there were clear alternatives for defending himself.

sez_me (anonymous profile)
April 9, 2013 at 8:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The rules of public lands need to change with the times. What was ok 40 years ago is not ok today. The Forrest service Always has an excuse. They only react after the issue. It comes down to this: if Hunters and Hikers try to use the same area,,, these problems will only increase. Next time it could be someone's child,,,

oldtimer (anonymous profile)
April 9, 2013 at 10:13 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Better to have control of your pets and understand where you and your pets are than to have to witness them shot because they were not under your control. Whether or not they were acting agressively, the potential harm to your pet or the human substantially decreases if you maintain control of the pet.

brimo7272 (anonymous profile)
April 9, 2013 at 11:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The lethal force of a bullet against a pet dog on a trail is unnecessary. It's just plain wrong. Bad behavior. Irresponsible gun use.

They should be responsible for their actions. Shooting a 40 lb pet on our trails. Shameful. Brea should know about these brave "hunters."

sez_me (anonymous profile)
April 9, 2013 at 12:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

A man that size being scared of that little 40 Lb. Dog?! There is NO EXCUSE!! I camp and hike up there all the time, with my Dog. Now I will think twice about it. For those of you trying to blame the pet owners for not having the Dog's on a leash, shame on you. What if something else had startled them, like a kid coming around the corner. That Dog rightly sensed something in those men.
My heart goes out to the owners of that little Dog.

sbfotos (anonymous profile)
April 9, 2013 at 12:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Great story and I am glad this was written. I was hoping there names would come out. I am a gun owner and a pet owner, including a dog. This is a complicated situation. However, speaking as a gun owner, I feel these guys just wanted to shoot something. They like the feel of the kill and I am positive they shot at more than just the dog that day. Probably a fox, a bunny, who knows, but I am positive they did. However, Wild boar/pigs are aggressive and vicious and destroy land. I have hunted them. Thus there are many sides to this story. But, an experienced shooter would and should react better than what happened. And, the dog owner should have had a better handle on his dog.

Frankly, this should be hashed out in civil litigation. Luckily for the dog owner, in civil litigation, one must only convince the jury for a majority to win his/her case. I do hope, in this rare incident, that I get that jury summons in the mail that week and that i have the opportunity to serve. If so, I will giggle with joy and convince the judge of my non bias and sit there quietly and on the inside, ponder and stare at these dumb hunters and nod and judge and then make a recommendation of a settlement that will be feasible yet terrible for the hunters to pay over the course of the next ohhh...10 years of their garnished wages. Sorry boys. Your are on the wrong side of this one.

vonG (anonymous profile)
April 9, 2013 at 1:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I still think the hunters made a stupid choice, but they were probably justified in taking some kind of action (shooting the dog was over the line). That said, I am a hunter and a dog owner and from that perspective I can say that it is really difficult to hunt anywhere near Santa Barbara. I stay completely away from the lower SY area, but most of my hunts end up being long hikes with a gun. As far as the restrictions and access go, hikers have it pretty easy. The article was a good one. The forest could make it much easier on everyone involved to just make the signage more clear.

Num1UofAn (anonymous profile)
April 9, 2013 at 2:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Those who oppose the use of training collars that shock the dog are ignorant of the intensity of the shock. I used them on my two beagles. I could control the level of shock. My female needed the minimum shock to respond. My male often needed the most intense shock. When we would go out for a walk, my male would get excited if I offered the shock collar to him. He knew it meant going off leash. My female did not like it. She would stay by my side when she had it on. I used a whistle or my voice to call my dogs long before I would use the shock collars.
The minimum shock level was no worse than getting a shock from the dry clothes coming out of the drier. The mid level was like a carpet shock.
If people are going to have their dogs off leash, they need to be in full control. A dog that barks at strangers should be kept on leash. I could call my dogs and instruct them to sit as a stranger walked by. This gave the stranger confidence as they walked past my dogs. This skill was very helpful as a stranger walked by with a dog on a leash.
There is no excuse for the dog owner's behavior. The hunters could likely use some better understanding of dog behavior but I do not fault them.

Idadho (anonymous profile)
April 9, 2013 at 3:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Rattlesnake Canyon Wilderness Area needs better dog owners.
Leashes required.

easternpacific (anonymous profile)
April 9, 2013 at 3:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes, unfortunately far too many dogs OFF leash on Rattlesnake Cyn Trail, & it's also the only frontcountry trail which bans mountain bikes, maybe get rid of the horses and dogs, too, eh? Just thinking...

DrDan (anonymous profile)
April 9, 2013 at 5:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I read this entire article twice and this is all I get when I read it: having a loaded gun while you hike around makes people do things that they wouldn't otherwise do. Hence, situations escalate to unstoppable and tragic consequences. Billy the Dog is a perfect example of this and frankly, I'm not too thrilled with the people who think hunting feral pigs is okay, either.

That said, there's legal and there's ethical and somehow there's a huge gap, here.

Native1 (anonymous profile)
April 9, 2013 at 6:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Don't bash on the feral pig hunting; they are an invasive, very destructive, and unchecked species without a natural predator. We should encourage hunting for these monsters in our backcountry.

SB2SB (anonymous profile)
April 9, 2013 at 8:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

These two guys are idiots, plain and simple. People who want guns need to take an I.Q. test. That way these two idiots could stay home and play video games.

Georgy (anonymous profile)
April 9, 2013 at 9 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Two guys with guns shoot a dog. Two guys who hadn't even done their homework about best place to go hunting for pigs.

I hope there is a trial and that these two murdering s.o.b.s have to pay and pay and pay. Poor innocent Billy. These ignorant, gun-toting jacka**es deserve to be punished.

chilldrinfthenight (anonymous profile)
April 9, 2013 at 9:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I am all for hunting pigs, they are tasty, and it's far less cruel than raising them on factory farms. I'd gladly shoot (and eat) the deer that are mauling the baby trees in our orchard too, but we are too close to inhabited areas for it to be legal.
As for calling a 40 pound dog a "large" dog, come on, that's a pooch that just barely comes up to your knee! Those Brea guys were not hunters, they were cowards with guns.
Idadho, I like your dog training skills. We need more dog owners like you.

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
April 9, 2013 at 9:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Really, it's ridiculous ranger Pancho Smith saying he doesn't have time to put up a brochure or a one-page notice on the bulletin board and at the trailhead that hikers should be aware there may be hunters with loaded guns sharing the trail!

It is indeed very likely to happen again that there are hunters with loaded guns and certainly possible that they are as trigger-happy as these two.

at_large (anonymous profile)
April 9, 2013 at 11:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I use to hike in the Front Country like Rattlesnake and Hot Springs, I was armed with a Survival knife, not for the animal population but for the other hikers. I carried it "peace tied", and as I got older I carried a small .32 or .38, again for the people population but under either the CCW or Open Carry clause. In the State of Michigan, it is a State Holiday on the first day of Deer Hunting season, often Murder is the preferred method of getting rid of someone you have a deep seeded hate or dislike for on the first or during hunting season; "Oops! I thought that Bob was a Deer". I carried a pistol with my rifle as a back-up precaution to a attempted murder or for hostile hunting dogs in the back country of Michigan. As for the article at hand, I believe Animal Pepper spray as a deterrent to dogs and small hostile animals would be preferred to a rifle of any caliber to use on a dog.

dou4now (anonymous profile)
April 10, 2013 at 6:08 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The hunters share in the blame here, for sure. So does the dog owner. Just because you can have a dog does not mean you should. Not everyone is cut out for dog ownership, and the one's who are not are usually the people who suffer an "accident" or have other issues involving their dogs.

brimo7272 (anonymous profile)
April 10, 2013 at 8:33 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes we have their names!

Nick Krueter and Samuel Lowe , meet the internet.

You're going to have a really awesome time the rest of your lives explaining this one... For its never, ever, ever going to leave you alone...

iamsomeguyinsb (anonymous profile)
April 10, 2013 at 8:53 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Over 50 years ago my Father cautioned me about avoiding City People that came up to the Los Padres, especially hunters.

I would guess this hunter shot at movement and did not identify his target, something moved and he shot it, a pig, a yote but did not identify what it really was.

I think the aggressive dog story is an after the fact fabrication.

Look at Billy, his snout is short and bite shallow. Even if he had growled and acted aggressive, a hiking boot would have protected the young hunters, or a rifle barrel used as a stick or prod.

Hunter Safety classes are all good and well, some are especially good but the real knowledge comes from your Father, years of training and experience when growing up, it is obvious these hunters lacked this experience and let their adrenalin rush override firearm rules and common sense.

I have not hunted on public land since 83 or 84 because I try to avoid inexperience and stupid, I avoid trails that mountain bikes use for the same reason.

The Tea and Jesusita Fires, inexperience and stupid.

Out at the Islands we had the same issues, people would arrive from the South where they moor on cans and had no idea how to deploy anchor tackle or had sufficient tackle for our sea conditions.

Almost every weekend someone is being rescued from the Back County or out at the Islands, inexperience and stupid.

Father to Son wisdom and experience is what is needed and what is lacking.

RIP dear Billy the Dog, sadly you drew the short straw.

howgreenwasmyvalley (anonymous profile)
April 10, 2013 at 9:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Nobody knows what really happened up there except the people involved. Yes, a 40 lb dog isn't considered big by most, but any dog showing aggression while not on a leash and out on a public trail is not something I'd waste time to see if it would attack me or not. Doesn't sound like the hunters did anything wrong here. Hunters always get a bad rap because you have your good ones that don't make the news and you have your bad ones that are all over the news.

Muggy (anonymous profile)
April 10, 2013 at 9:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It is always a good idea to avoid people who kill animals for fun and recreation. It seems logical to me to assume that people who enjoy using violence against animals are dangerous and unbalanced. I'm kind of shocked that so many people posting here are apologists for these guys, and for people who take natural resources from our public lands using guns, arrows, and violence.

SkylinePigeon (anonymous profile)
April 10, 2013 at 1:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

They hunt up at Davey Brown campsite as well. I was there when my son was young and whoa they told me before i got out of my car to get a good spot by the creek and keep him close. I love camping

avolition (anonymous profile)
April 10, 2013 at 2:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm often at Davy Brown and there has been little hunting right there (illegal), but outside the campground plenty of quail and deer-hunting in season. There are rumors of bear-poaching in the area, but I've never noticed...

DrDan (anonymous profile)
April 10, 2013 at 3:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The hunters should not have shot the dog. The dog should not have been off leash AND out of sight. This situation is unlikely to happen again, as Ranger Smith indicated.

The people that are anti-hunting, pro off-leash, or horrified might consider funding one solution. The Forest Service is strapped, with too many responsibilities and not enough money to fund even the necessities, and certainly not the niceties. If you want 3-fold pamphlets informing people that hunting on public lands is legal, and that you need to share the Los Padres -- the land of many uses -- then you could pay to produce and distribute those pamphlets. Hunters already pay more for conservation and wild lands preservation with their hunting licenses than any hikers do.

Californians are weird and out of touch with real nature. Wild pigs are destroying many areas of our forests, and hunting them aggressively is a good thing. In more rural states, like Montana, where most everyone hunts, dog owners know that they are responsible for their dogs, and that a dog harassing a cow, a person, or a deer (any other animal) can be shot. Most people try not to shoot a pet, but the pet owner is responsible for their pets' behavior, and misbehavior is not tolerated if it threatens others.

I would hope the hunters would do what is ethical, and apologize and offer to buy the owners another dog. Dogs aren't interchangeable, but offering to buy the owner a new dog has been the tradition in ethical hunting for hundreds of years.

Becky (anonymous profile)
April 10, 2013 at 7:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Muggy if you can't "defend" yourself against a dog like Billy without shooting it, maybe you should stay indoors and play video games instead of going on the trails.

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
April 10, 2013 at 9:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Sad but classic.
Forest service writes rules that they can't enforce.
Hunters defend themselves with what is in their hands instead of thinking first
Free spirited hiker lets well behaved dog have a little freedom.
Hiker lets dog off leash during hunting season? (I never hike during hunting season)

passagerider (anonymous profile)
May 1, 2013 at 4:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I ALWAYS hike during hunting season, there are so many with overlapping times and areas...quail, bear, deer, and so on. Also carry hunter orange garb with me, but never a dog.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
May 1, 2013 at 7:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Vaud and the Villains

This 19 piece 1930s New Orleans orchestra and cabaret will ... Read More