SACRAMENTO — Hunting bears with hounds is a time-honored tradition in California, but it won’t be legal after Jan. 1, when the state outlaws the use of dogs to hunt bobcats and bears.
‘‘When you think about it, hunting with dogs is probably the oldest hunting in history. I’m sorry to see it end,’’ said Gary Ramey of Gainesville, Ga., who traveled 2,500 miles with his daughter to hunt bears with dogs in California.
Houndsmen use dogs to track a bear and chase it up a tree, where hunters can get a good shot at it. However, for many houndsmen and their dogs, the thrill is in the chase, and they release the bear unharmed.
Democratic state Senator Ted Lieu of Torrance, whose bill banned the practice, equated killing a bear in a tree to shooting a bear in a zoo.
Seventeen states permit the use of hounds to hunt bears, while 15 ban the practice. The other 18 do not allow bear hunting, according to the Humane Society of the United States.