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Idaho Considers Protecting Hunting, Fishing and Trapping in its Constitution

Snake River fishing at Idaho Falls

This November Idaho voters will have an out-of-the-ordinary vote before them. On the ballot is an amendment to add protection of fishing, hunting and trapping to the state’s constitution. The proposal has obviously met with fierce support from pro-hunting groups, while anti-hunters are insistent that the amendment should not pass.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission supports the amendment. A letter (pdf) by the commission officially announced its endorsement of the amendment. It read,

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.

By way of these measures, the Commission’s legal authority to regulate hunting, fishing, trapping and licensing thereof will be unaffected.

Senator Lee Heider (R-Twin Falls) wrote the amendment, or HJR2. He wants to protect Idaho’s heritage and wants protection for hunting from any future attempt that could devastate the state’s wildlife management laws.

Earlier this year, Idahoans Against Trapping wanted to halt the amendment effort saying that trapping is cruel and inhumane and doesn’t deserve constitutional protection.

As described in the amendment, statements for the amendment argue:

  • Hunting, fishing and trapping have long been practiced by the people of Idaho, and this amendment preserves Idaho’s great sporting heritage.
  • Hunters, fishers and trappers help sustain a healthy ecosystem, and this amendment provides sportsmen meaningful and permanent protection to hunt, fish and trap.
  • Without constitutional protection, bans on certain types of hunting and trapping have been successful in other states and have incrementally eroded sportsmen’s rights.

Statements against the proposed amendment include:

  • Future legislation to address public concerns regarding inhumane and unsportsmanlike practices could be affected by this amendment.
  • This amendment is unnecessary because the rights to hunt, fish and trap are not threatened and are already protected by law.
  • The Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s wildlife management decisions could be constitutionally challenged as a result of this amendment.

Image from Wesley Andrews/WaterArchives.org

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