Sportsmen’s issues were split around the country

  • Wayne Kruse / Outdoor Writer
  • Saturday, November 18, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

Outdoor Writer

Sportsmen’s issues around the country mirrored the split in the popular vote on other issues and candidates Nov. 7, according to Beth Howenstine of the Wildlife Legislative Fund of America, the nation’s leading sportsmen’s advocacy group.

“We have several important wins, but regret three major losses,” Howenstine said.

Oregon, which has been a target for animal rights groups since passing cougar and black bear hunting bans in 1994, she said, sent a powerful message to the national anti-hunting establishment on election day. Measure 97, a ballot initiative that would have banned trapping, was resoundingly defeated. Results show 39 percent in favor and 61 percent opposed to the ban.

In Washington, voters approved Initiative 713 to ban trapping by a 45 to 55 percent margin. But polls in September indicated sportsmen could expect to receive only about 26 percent of the vote, Howenstine said, so the final result was a gain nearly 20 percent.

“Unfortunately,” she said, “sportsmen were unable to overcome a massive spending advantage held by the anti’s, who were financed by the Humane Society of the United States and the Fund for Animals.”

Voting results in the two states, said WLFA president Bud Pidgeon, proved the public will support trapping.

“We are proud to have been a contributor to Oregon’s efforts,” he said, “and although we regret the loss in Washington, the relative tightness of the race demonstrates that sportsmen can win there with better organization.”

Thanks to voters, the North Dakota and Virginia state constitutions will now contain language “recognizing the value of hunting to be forever preserved.” Modeled after a similar amendment passed in Minnesota in 1998, voters in North Dakota passed Measure 1 by a whopping 80 percent.

In much more urban Virginia, Howenstine said, voters sent an equally strong message. The state’s hunting heritage, as posed in Question 2, was supported by an impressive 61 percent of voters.

Stronger measures, however, designed to prevent future “management of wildlife by initiative,” didn’t fare as well. A proposed constitutional amendment in Alaska, which would have banned wildlife issues from the ballot, was resoundingly defeated. So was a similar proposal in Arizona, which would have required a two-thirds majority to pass future wildlife ballot issues.

Alaskan sportsmen suffered an additional defeat when voters approved Measure 6, which reinstated a ban on airborne wolf control. Voters passed a similar ban in 1996, but sportsmen successfully persuaded the Alaska Legislature to overturn the measure, which in their view prevented wildlife managers from adequately protecting other wildlife from a growing wolf population.

“Regretfully,” Pidgeon said, “voters in Alaska and Arizona did not realize the benefits of restricting wildlife related ballot initiatives. As it stands now, sportsmen must continue to worry about outsiders coming into their states and manipulating wildlife management via the ballot box.”

The Wildlife Legislative Fund of America protects the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers in the courts, legislatures, at the ballot box, in Congress and through public education. For more information about the WLFA and its work contact Doug Jeanneret, Director of Communications, WLFA, 801 Kingsmill Parkway, Columbus, Ohio 43229; phone 614-888-4868; www.wlfa.org.

  • A huge run of coho returning this fall to several Washington hatcheries will result in an estimated 300,000 pounds of fish being sent to various state food banks, according to state Fish and Wildlife Department spokesman Andy Appleby. Once processed, the surplus coho will represent over 100,000 pounds of fillets.

    Although the WDFW has donated fish to the program for the past 11 years, coordinated by the Grays Harbor/Pacific County Food Bank Distribution Center, this year’s donation is much larger than normal. By the time the final donations are made, Appleby says, every county in the state will have received some of the salmon.

    Other agency actions to utilize the excess coho include additional commercial and recreational fishing opportunity; using salmon carcasses to provide stream nutrients; and allowing some hatchery fish to spawn naturally in areas where they will not interfere with wild fish species. Some salmon are taken by the tribes, and some are sold to a contract buyer, qualified under a competitive bidding process.

    The fish donated to food banks are processed free by a Bellingham firm, American-Canadian Fisheries, and are transported, also free, through arrangements made by Rotary First Harvest.

    As of Nov. 9, counties which had already received fillets included Snohomish, 7,500 pounds; King, 7,500 pounds; Cowlitz, 5,000 pounds; Spokane, 5,000 pounds; Pierce, 15,000 pounds; Lewis, 5,600 pounds; Thurston, 6,200 pounds; Jefferson, 4,200 pounds; and Clallam, 4,000 pounds.

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