Hunting Management Decisions Left to Voters in the West

Contact: Aoibheann Cline, Western States Coordinator and Ellary TuckerWilliams, Inter-Mountain Western States Coordinator

Utah Passes Right to Hunt and Fish

During the 2020 election, the citizens of Utah voted to pass (74.7% Yes, 25.3% No) through a ballot initiative, a Constitutional Amendment to guarantee its people the right to hunt and fish. The Constitutional Amendment E, Right to Hunt and Fish, requires that the right to hunt and fish must adhere to statutes that promote wildlife conservation, management, preserve the future of hunting and fishing, and declares hunting and fishing as the preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife in the state. The ballot measure was originally sponsored by Utah Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs Representative Casey Snider and Senator Allen Christensen earlier this year whose goal was to preserve Utah’s sporting heritage in perpetuity.

Montana Passes Gun Control Pre-emption

LR-130, the Limit Local Government Authority to Regulate Firearms Measure, was on the ballot in Montana as a legislatively referred state statute on November 3, 2020. Those in favor of the ballot initiative voted “yes” to removing local governments’ authority to regulate the carrying of permitted concealed weapons. Originally sponsored by Montana Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Representative Matt Regier, the objective of LR-130 is to protect Montana citizens from entities in the future enacting stricter gun laws than those that exist at the state level and to standardize local gun ordinances. LR-130 passed during the 2020 election with 50.93% voting yes and 49.07% voting no.

Colorado Wolf Introduction Appears to Pass by Slim Margin

On Election Day, the voters of Colorado considered a ballot measure to force the introduction of gray wolves into the state. Proposition 114 directs state fish and wildlife managers to introduce wolves into Colorado’s Western Slope by the year 2024. [As of 11/5 the vote has been too close to call – 50.32% Yes, 49.68% No].

The sportsmen’s community, including the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, opposed the initiative because sustainable and effective wildlife management is accomplished through science-based decision making by wildlife-management experts at the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). The presence of gray wolves will cause conflict with humans and animals that currently live in Colorado. Further, gray wolves are known to prey indiscriminately on livestock and wild game herds, such as elk and deer. Livestock predation will cost the state and taxpayers considerable amounts of money to compensate impacted farmers and ranchers. Predation of deer, elk and other wildlife populations will have a negative fiscal impact on CPW’s ability to generate revenue for other species and habitat conservation needs. Roughly 350,000 big game hunting licenses are sold each year in Colorado and sportsmen contribute $1.8 billion annually to the state’s economy, according to a 2018 study commissioned by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife division. Hunters assist the agency in managing big game herd numbers to maintain socially and ecologically sustainable populations that balance the needs of citizens, wildlife, the economy and Colorado’s robust agriculture industry.

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Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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