Don’t confuse these with the State Wildlife Refuges where hunting programs are in place. They’re a completely different animal.
In 1910, creation of sanctuaries for game animals like deer and bear was a progressive idea. This was an era that preceded game management as we know it today. I made a quick search on the internet, but I couldn’t find the date of creation of the California hunting licence legislation, but I doubt that hunting licenses even existed in 1910 and I’m certain that meaningful game population estimates were non-existent.
Therefore, the concept of creation of big game sanctuaries was a logical human action. The creators of this legislation had no data to rely upon.
Today game is managed by more than gut instincts and it has been known for some time that, with minor exceptions, game sanctuaries are ineffective as game management tools. In fact, for the most part, that has always been the case.
For detailed information about California State Game Refuges go to: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/gamerefuges/
Because these refuges were created by legislation, their removal also requires legislative action. If you are interested in participating in the process of determining the fate of these refuges, participate at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/gamerefuge
If you’re interested in more science on this topic, check out the following article written in 1943. http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/gamerefuges/docs/GameRefuges_1943.pdf
Conclusions are on the last page.
Or, for a briefer statement, check out this article from “Tracks.” http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/gamerefuges/docs/1997Tracks-GameRefuges.pdf