San Diegan John Cox gives a biscuit treat to Tag, the 1,000-pound Kodiak bear.
San Diegan John Cox gives a biscuit treat to Tag, the 1,000-pound Kodiak bear. Photo by Chris Stone

The San Diego Humane Society confirmed Wednesday it is investigating the use of a bear during California gubernatorial candidate John Cox’s San Diego campaign appearance.

The Rancho Santa Fe businessman brought Kodiak bear Tag out and about on Tuesday for a campaign stop at Shelter Island, the second time the animal was used on Cox’s campaign trail.

Cox, who is running to unseat Gov. Gavin Newsom in a recall election later this year, used the animal to illustrate his campaign theme of “Beauty and the Beast.” Newsom, who Cox presents as an elitist out of touch with the needs of Californians, is the “beauty” in that equation.

In a statement, the San Diego Humane Society said its law enforcement arm was investigating whether Cox’s campaign violated a San Diego municipal code section prohibiting the use of wildlife for such purposes.

The group says the municipal code “strictly prohibits this type of event. Humane officers will submit their findings to the San Diego city attorney for prosecutorial review. A violation of this municipal code is a misdemeanor.”

Cox’s campaign issued a statement in response to the concerns of animal rights groups, saying “Every care was taken to ensure Tag’s comfort and safety with the approval of several government agencies. California needs beastly change and that may ruffle some feathers of left wing activists.”

The campaign continued Wednesday with a stop in Palm Desert, but this time Tag was absent.

Cox is one of several Republicans seeking to unseat Newsom, including former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, former reality TV star and Olympic decathlete Caitlyn Jenner and former Rep. Doug Ose.

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