Friday, February 22, 2008

Proposed Idaho Constitutional Amendment on Hunting

The bizarre nature of Idaho wildlife politics continues. The State Affairs committee is considering House Joint Resolution 2, which is a proposed state constitutional amendment to make hunting the preferred mechanism for managing wildlife. The resolution specifically requests the following clause to be added to the state's constitution:

SECTION 23. RIGHT TO HUNT, FISH, TRAP AND HARVEST. The people have the right to hunt, fish, trap and harvest wild game, subject to reasonable rules approved by the state legislature. Consistent with the state of Idaho's duty to protect this valued heritage and to preserve, protect, perpetuate and manage wild mammals, birds and fish, traditional methods used to take species not protected by federal law are reserved to the people. Public hunting, fishing and trapping shall be the preferred means of managing and controlling species under state control. Nothing in this amendment shall be construed to modify any provision of common law or statutes relating to trespass, eminent domain or any other property rights.

I was outraged when I discovered this bill. While I am not opposed to using hunting as a method for wildlife reduction, I would much rather it be the result of biological analysis and case specific implementation, versus a constitutional amendment which makes it the higher law of the land. This is the letter that I sent to my legislators:

Senator Mike Burkett,
Representative Anne Pasley-Stuart,
Representative Nicole LeFavour,

I know that you are in the middle of your most busy time of the year, so I will try to make this brief. I was unbelievably outraged when I heard of and then read the proposed HJR002.

The following are my concerns:
-This is a waste of money and time. You should be working on something more meaningful and forward looking.
-This is a ridiculous clause to have within the constitution of our state. It is inappropriate for inclusion at that level and further muddies our constitution.
-This would further politicize wildlife management instead of allowing it to be more influenced by biologists.
-Most importantly, the proposal arrogantly implies that first wildlife must be managed, and that management equals killing (for example "hunting... shall be the preferred means of managing"). We forget that wildlife is supposed to be wild. Wildlife lived in Idaho for millions of years before we arrived and decided that it must be managed.

I know each of your work well enough that I don't believe that any of you support this initiative or spending time on it, but as my representatives I feel compelled to express my outrage.

Thank you for listening and keep up the good work on the critical topics facing our state.

The hurdle to pass a constitutional amendment is quite high (2/3 vote of both house and senate, approval of governor, and a simple majority of the vote of the people). With that said, just last year we passed a very specific anti-civil unions amendment. If I were to bet today, I would say this will pass.

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