Relying overwhelmingly on volunteers, the Idaho Coalition United for Bears qualified its initiative to restrict bear hunting with just a quarter of the cash Idaho sportsmen spent trying to stop the proposal.
Campaign finance reports filed with the secretary of state showed that through June 30 the coalition had spent $50,000 to win ballot status for the ban on bear-baiting, tracking bears with hounds and the spring bear hunt.
The coalition, however, only had $4,200 in the bank to counter what is expected to be a major campaign against it by the Sportsmen’s Heritage Defense Fund.
The sportsmen’s group, claiming wildlife management should be left to the Fish and Game Commission and warning that the initiative is the first step toward banning hunting in Idaho, spent more than $205,000 in the failed drive to keep the proposal off the ballot.
Spokesman John Watts said the money was not spent to keep the initiative off the ballot but to defeat it.
The fund had more than $71,000 in the bank on July 1 and a pledge for $40,000 more from the Archery Manufacturers and Merchants Organization in Florida.
The biggest contributor this spring was the Region Six Idaho Wildlife Council, which kicked in just over $16,600.
That was well over a third of the money the fund took in from April through June.
The coalition, which got $42,500 of its initial $44,000 from the Humane Society of the United States, got no help this spring from the Washington, D.C.-based group.
But it also raised less than $10,000 during the three months, and $5,000 of that was a loan from coalition leader Lynn Fritchman.
The coalition report also showed that it paid just $9,000 to a Florida company for help on the signature-gathering drive. Jim Barton of Advantage Consultants in Orlando said $7,500 was for advice and management services and the other $1,500 was for direct payments to signature gatherers.
Fritchman said only about 5 percent of the signatures submitted for the initiative were gathered by paid people.
Watt claims Fritchman and the coalition actually spent another $7,000 on nonprofessional help to gather signatures, maintaining that was no different than hiring a professional signaturegathering company.
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