UCFA & the Fish & Game Commission (10/5/19)
UCFA leaders have been diligently building a relationship with the Fish & Game Commission since April 2019. We approached them to request a meeting to further discuss CEQA (1970s legislation to protect the environment) and their concerns about domestic ferrets. In June, after two months of coordinating schedules we drove 6 hours from Los Angeles to Sacramento to meet with the staff of the Commission at their office.
This meeting was attended by two Fish & Game staff members as well as two members of UCFA. For over an hour we discussed the policies that regulate ferrets in California, the long and complicated CEQA process (Environmental Impact Reports fall under this) and what it’s like for ferret owners living in California.
Domestic ferrets are considered wildlife in California and are regulated by laws for wildlife. (This is also how you can legally seek medical attention for your ferret, because they are technically wildlife, and wildlife medical care is protected by a 2003 state law.) Language that is used in laws has very specific definitions and meanings. Changing any of these words can drastically change the law.
We discussed how the 2010 Sacramento State Study isn’t an Environmental Impact Report. An EIR has to be conducted by the lead agency of the CEQA process, this would have to be the Fish & Game Commission. CEQA is a long expensive process that involves a lead agency, public hearings, research, multiple reports and a study.
The Commission can be petitioned for regulation change from anyone. If a petition is successfully and completely filled out it will be accepted by the Commission regardless of what the petition is requesting. At this point it would be assigned to a public hearing. This is when the Commission will either vote to add the petition as a future agenda item and delegate resources to research the change in regulation or deny further consideration.
UCFA is aware of a petition from outside our organization that was submitted to the Fish and Game Commission a few weeks after we met with them in June. This petition asks the Fish & Game Commission to no longer refer to ferrets as wild. This petition has been accepted by the Commission because it was correctly filled out. On October 9th the petition will be voted on by the Commission to be further considered or denied.
We expect the petition to be denied based off the knowledge we gathered from our meeting with the Commission. We understand that they cannot refer to ferrets as anything but wildlife because that is how they are legally classified. Reclassifying them as anything but wildlife would essentially remove the ban on ferrets or as the Commission worded it on their agenda “remove ferrets from the restricted list’. Even though these two things seem different they are actually the same thing.
Since this petition was submitted only two weeks after their staff spent so much time with us we felt the need to assure them that we had not disregarded our detailed conversation about policy or procedure. On July 11, we sent a letter to clarify that UCFA did not know about this petition and that it was initiated from outside our organization.
We have been diligently building a cooperative and respectful reputation for UCFA & ferrets in Sacramento. This approach is necessary for success in decriminalizing ferrets for responsible pet owners. We’re continuing to work with the Commission and follow President Skylar’s previous advice to go through the state legislature to amend the ban on ferrets for responsible pet owners.