Asking La Mesa, CA to be a Sanctuary City for Ferrets
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We, the ferret owners all around California, and all over the world humbly and respectfully ask the city of La Mesa to declare itself a sanctuary city for ferrets.
We take this unusual step because no one in our state government (and this is a state issue) will give us assistance or explain the reason for banning domestic ferrets in the first place.
Ferrets are legal in 48 states. The California Fish and Game Commission has long warned about the dangers to come if ferrets were legal. From the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website:
Ferrets have been prohibited in California since 1933. Under Fish and Game Commission regulations, ferrets are currently classified as detrimental mammals because they have not been determined by the Commission to be normally domesticated in California and they pose a threat to native wildlife agriculture, or to public health and safety. Existing law prohibits importation and possession of ferrets in California
The above cites no evidence, no proof and no research to make that claim. And none of these horrible fears have been realized. Ferrets live amongst us in great numbers and no wildlife, agriculture, public health, etc have been harmed.
We have recently put forth two petitions in front of the Fish and Game Commission.
May 26th 2016 we formally requested the Fish and Game Commission remove ferrets from the prohibited species list.
Staff recommends denying the petition. Given that the proposed action would effectively eliminate the Commission’s authority to regulate ferrets, the potentially significant impacts to wildlife identified in the report, and the inability of the Commission to implement any identified mitigation measures, staff does not recommend removing ferrets from the list of restricted species at this time. However, if the Commission would like to move forward with the preparation of an EIR to further evaluate the potential impacts, staff recommends developing regulations to establish a contract selection process similar to the DFW regulations and proceed with a petitioner-funded EIR. Finally, it is important to note that this issue is not specific to ferrets. Other species that are sometimes kept as domestic pets, such as hedgehogs and sugar gliders (species of possum), are also included in the list of restricted species. Any requests to remove them from the list would require similar considerations.
Please note we offered to pay for the EIR at this meeting. We contracted with Sacramento State University in 2010 at a cost of $16,000 to prepare a preliminary EIR in 2010. It was rejected without a CEQA document, we spent another $2,500 on that document. It took the Fish and Game Commission 7 years to read the documents.
A second petition for Regulation Change was presented on December 3rd, 2016. It simply asked the Fish and Game Commission to issue permits for ferrets as they had done for neutered male ferrets prior to 1985. The result surprised us:
Requests FGC issue permits for ferrets under certain circumstances.
Deny: FGC has previously indicated that it will not authorize wild animals to be possessed as pets.
When the Fish and Game Commission referred to our pets as “wild animals” other attendees at that meeting laughed. It seems these days everyone knows that domestic ferrets are not wild animals, and most people have met a ferret.
A few days after that meeting Fish and Game President Erik Sklar called me to say that they are indeed aware these are not wild animals and the issue is more complicated that we realized. He also said he was not in favor of the current “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on ferrets but he didn’t know what else they could do.
We would be required to fund a full Environmental Impact Report. We would be told the upfront cost would be $250,000 but after it was done it would cost closer to $650,000. He recommended we go to the legislature and get a sponsor, that legislation would not require an EIR. I asked him to put that in writing and after a week he called back to say “No,” and that I should use what he said at that meeting instead.
We have been looking for a legislative sponsor since 2004, after Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed a ferret amnesty bill. We have had no luck. The issue is not taken seriously by California legislators.
People are still suffering from this law:
- People who have their ferrets get out have to go through all sorts of trouble to prove their ferrets were relocated out of state
- People can’t get security clearances, certain licenses or foster parent status if they have ferrets
- People can’t move to California if they have ferrets. Especially affects people in the military
What is the benefit of this law?
The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly. Abraham Lincoln
It is wrong that we are powerless.
All politics are local
The city of La Mesa can make a very symbolic statement and perhaps get this in front of a legislator by declaring La Mesa a Ferret Sanctuary City.
Note – this petition is in no ways making light of those people whose families have been torn apart by deportations from ICE. “Sanctuary” is a beautiful word, we wish to use it for our efforts without any disrespect to others.
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