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Idaho voters asked to make hunting, fishing, trapping a right

ELECTIONS -- Idaho voters in November will consider whether to upgrade hunting, fishing and trapping from traditional privileges to rights protected by an amendment to the state's constitution.

Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, who crafted the amendment, said it's time to protect Idaho’s heritage, especially against the steady pressure from animal rights groups. He says the amendment will protect the hunting, fishing and trapping heritage from future attempts to erode Idaho’s wildlife management laws.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission supports the amendment.

The trapping portion of the proposed protections has stirred the most controversy.

Idahoans Against Trapping launched a campaign against the amendment effort earlier this year, arguing that trapping is cruel and inhumane, and shouldn’t be protected in the constitution.

A "yes" vote supports adding the following section to the Idaho constitution:

“The rights to hunt, fish and trap, including by the use of traditional methods, are a valued part of the heritage of the State of Idaho and shall forever be preserved for the people and managed through the laws, rules and proclamations that preserve the future of hunting, fishing and trapping. Public hunting, fishing and trapping of wildlife shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. The rights set forth herein do not create a right to trespass on private property, shall not affect rights to divert, appropriate and use water, or establish any minimum amount of water in any water body, and shall not lead to a diminution of other private rights.”

Read on for statements for and against HJR 2, as prepared by the Idaho secretary of state.

Statements FOR the Proposed Amendment

  1. Hunting, fishing and trapping have long been practiced by the people of Idaho, and this amendment preserves Idaho's great sporting heritage.
  2. Hunters, fishers and trappers help sustain a healthy ecosystem, and this amendment provides sportsmen meaningful and permanent protection to hunt, fish and trap.
  3. 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

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

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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