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Out & About: Habitat reason cited for ‘no’ on HJR 2aa

OUTVOTE – Groups opposed to the use of traps have been the most vocal opposition to the proposed Idaho constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would add protections to hunting, fishing and trapping.

Thirteen other states have passed right-to-hunt- and-fish amendments. Three others besides Idaho – Kentucky, Nebraska and Wyoming – are considering them in November. Only five states have specifically protected the right to trap.

But a sportsman who otherwise supports pro- tecting the hunting-fishing sports cites a different reason for his decision to vote no on HJR 2aa.

The bigger issue is the threat the amendment poses to habitat, said Ned Horner, former Idaho Fish and Game Department Panhandle Region fisheries manager.

Says Horner: “The reaction of most hunters and fishermen will be to automatically support the proposed amendment based on the first part that reads, ‘… to provide that 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 …’

“However, it’s the additional language in the proposal that is a threat to every Idahoan’s ability to hunt and fish.

“The next part reads, ‘… to provide that public hunting, fishing and trapping of wildlife shall be a preferred means of managing wildlife.’ 

“Regulating harvest is a critical part of wildlife management, but regulations mean nothing if there isn’t adequate habitat to support wildlife and fish populations. 

“Let’s say critical big-game winter range is threatened by a mega housing development on the Boise front range.  This section of the Constitutional amendment could be interpreted to imply that culling the herd would be a priority over preserving critical wildlife habitat.”

The fish biologist also is concerned about the section that reads, “… shall not affect rights to divert, appropriate and use water, or establish any minimum amount of water in any water body.” 

“My constitutional right to fish or hunt is protected, but that means nothing if the stream is dry or the wetland has been drained…,” he said.  “This section gives Constitutional protection to whoever wants to use water for consumptive uses at the expense of the fish and wildlife that water now supports.” 

Rule bites those who feed bears

OUTLAW — Feeding black bears has always been a bad idea, but starting this year, it’s also illegal in Washington.

Two new state laws went into effect in June that prohibit – intention- ally or otherwise – leaving food or waste in places where it can attract bears and other wild carnivores.

“Putting food scraps out for bears or leaving garbage cans or pet food exposed is an open invitation for them to pay you and your neighbors a visit,” said Mike Cenci, deputy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife police chief.

It’s also an invitation for Fish and Wildlife police officers to visit and give you a ticket.

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