Opinion » Mail

Mail and Commentary Oct. 10, 2012

For and Against

On Nov. 6, voters throughout Idaho will be asked whether to change the state Constitution to permanently enshrine rights to hunt, fish and trap. This proposed amendment, HJR2, is a misguided solution looking for a problem. There are no threats to Idahoans' rights to hunt or fish, and no out-of-state animal rights organization can take those rights away. We live in a democracy. Except in cases involving the federal Endangered Species Act--against which the state Constitution is no protection--only Idahoans can decide how to use our wildlife.

HJR2 is a pointless and frivolous use of the Idaho Constitution. The Constitution should be reserved for protecting basic human rights that affect all citizens. Those include our freedoms of speech, assembly and religion. Rights to engage in particular recreational activities do not fall into that category. Passage of this amendment would set a bad precedent for changing the Constitution to benefit special interests.

The intent of this proposed amendment is to deprive future generations of Idahoans of the right to decide wildlife issues by majority vote. Its passage would take those decisions out of the Legislature and the initiative process and put them in the courts. State laws pertaining to wildlife would be regularly challenged as unconstitutional. Idaho taxpayers would be forced to spend money litigating these issues.

If HJR2 is defeated, existing rights to hunt, fish and trap will remain in effect. Nothing will change.

By making hunting, fishing and trapping a "preferred means of managing wildlife," HJR2 would hinder the Department of Fish and Game.

The proposed amendment includes a guaranteed right to trap. While both hunters and fishermen kill their catches quickly, trapping is a cruel and prolonged way to kill animals. An animal caught in a leghold trap can suffer for days. Animals caught under water struggle frantically before they drown. About 40,000 animals die in Idaho this way every year. Pets and hunting dogs are also caught in these traps.

According to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, there are only about 900 trappers in the state--less than one-tenth of 1 percent of Idaho's adult population. Passage of HJR2 would change the Constitution to secure their interests at the expense of eliminating the democratic right of the remaining 99.9 percent of the population to make decisions on this issue.

HJR2 is a misguided use of the Idaho Constitution, an infringement on our democratic rights and an abuse of wildlife. It should be defeated.

--Greg Moore,

chairman, No on HJR2

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission strongly supports the proposed Constitutional Amendment (HJR2) establishing the right to hunt, fish and trap in Idaho. We urge our fellow citizens to vote "yes" on HJR2 when they go to the polls in November.

Hunting, fishing and trapping have always been and remain important parts of our heritage and the fabric of Idaho. Recent surveys confirm that a strong majority of Idahoans continue to support these outdoor activities. However, opposition groups in other states have sought to hijack wildlife management by restricting or eliminating these activities. It's important for Idahoans to act now to ensure future generations an opportunity to experience Idaho's sporting heritage.

Public hunting, fishing and trapping are our primary tools for managing wildlife. Without these, IDFG would have to rely more on government actions to manage wildlife populations and conflicts, at greater expense and risk. The wildlife we enjoy today exists because of the conservation ethic of hunters, anglers and trappers who pay for science-based, professional wildlife management when they buy licenses, tags and equipment.

The commission's legal authority to regulate hunting, fishing and trapping and require licensing is not impacted by this amendment. This amendment would also keep punishment for those who violate our wildlife laws.

In 1938, the people of Idaho created the Idaho Fish and Game Commission through a citizen's initiative that mandates that we "preserve, protect, perpetuate and manage" Idaho's wildlife, including providing for hunting, fishing and trapping. Seventy-five years later, we ask Idahoans to join us in voting for wildlife again--this time to preserve, protect, perpetuate and manage wildlife and uphold Idaho's sporting heritage for future generations.

Please vote "yes" on HJR2.

--The Idaho Fish and Game Commission


The Sept. 26 edition of Boise Weekly reported that Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot "outed" a gay Idaho Falls reporter. VanderSloot denies outing the reporter. To read his response, visit frankvanderslootresponse.com. Salon reported on the issue at length. Read that story at salon.com.