Why it Matters: The use of ballot initiatives to restrict or ban hunting circumvents the legislative and regulatory process that allows for input by professionals, opportunities for revisions, and considerations of broader impacts within the state’s overall science-based management plan. These initiatives can allow wildlife management decisions to be made based on emotion rather than scientific principles and can tie the hands of professional wildlife managers by restricting adaptive tools and methods necessary to achieve balanced and thriving ecosystems.
- On September 22, anti-hunting advocates filed a proposed ballot measure in Colorado that seeks to ban all hunting and trapping of mountain lions, bobcats, and the federally protected Canada lynx.
- This ballot initiative comes on heels of the Colorado legislature soundly defeating Senate Bill 22-031 (SB22-031), which also aimed to restrict predator management, circumvent the authority of Colorado Parks and Wildlife and erode the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.
- The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) strongly opposed these efforts during the 2023 legislative session and will be working with national and in-state partners to oppose this initiative should it qualify for the 2024 ballot.
After failing to advance their misguided policy during the 2023 Colorado Legislative Session, anti-hunting advocates have now filed a proposed ballot measure that seeks to ban all hunting and trapping of mountain lions, bobcats, and the already federally protected Canada lynx. After their legislative proposal, Senate Bill 22-031 (SB22-031), went down in flames with a 4-1 vote in the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee earlier this year, animal rights organizations are now attempting to circumvent the legislative process and instead pass their hunting ban by placing it on the November 2024 ballot.
SB 22-031, and its repackaged ballot initiative version titled “Prohibit Trophy Hunting”, aim to remove Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s (CPW) science-based management authority over wild felines by banning all legal mountain lion – also known as cougar – and bobcat hunting and trapping in the state. Efforts to have wildlife management decisions based on emotion rather than scientific principles can tie the hands of professional wildlife managers by restricting adaptive tools and methods necessary to achieve balanced and thriving ecosystems.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, along with partners from the Colorado Wildlife Conservation Partnership (CWCP), participated in the Committee Hearing in February for SB 22-031 where this attack on the outdoor sporting community was voted down after a 4-hour public hearing that drew over 200 sportsmen and women from across the state. CWCP hosted a press conference before the Committee hearing, where Colorado Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs Senator Dennis Hisey and Representative Perry Will addressed the large crowd of sportspeople who gathered, highlighting the importance of keeping wildlife management with the experts at CPW and out of the legislature. Representatives from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), Coloradans for Responsible Wildlife Management (CRWM), Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and a former Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commissioner also spoke during the press conference. Following the legislative defeat in February, the anti-hunting activists have moved their efforts to the ballot initiative process.
Unfortunately, Colorado isn’t alone in facing attacks by animal rights activists attempting to erode the North American Model of Conservation. Efforts are also underway in Oregon, where Initiative Petition 3 (IP3) has been filed that would end all hunting, fishing, and trapping in the state. If passed by voters on the November 2024 ballot, IP3 would restrict critical wildlife management tools and have a disastrous impact on conservation funding as roughly half of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s budget comes from sportsmen-generated dollars. Reducing this funding by removing all hunting and fishing license sales threatens vital conservation efforts that protect the state’s wildlife and the habitat upon which they rely.
The Congressional Sportmsen’s Foundation serves on the Steering Committee for the hunting and conservation coalition that is actively opposing these efforts in Oregon and will also be working with national and in-state partners in Colorado to oppose the “Prohibit Trophy Hunting” ballot initiative at each step of the process. Please stay tuned for additional updates on these efforts and how to be involved.