HJR002: amending Idaho constitution to make hunting preferred means of wildlife management

It appears that the Big-Game interests are pushing hard in Idaho. House Joint Resolution No.2 (HJR002) would amend the state constitution to :

provide that the people have the right to hunt, fish, trap and harvest wild game

Fair enough, I mean, it’s not like the state doesn’t already exercise this ‘right’ as it is. People can hunt. But what’s this about ? :

Public hunting, fishing and trapping shall be the preferred means of managing and controlling species under state control.

This on the eve of wolf delisting…

Wolf Moon Eclipse
Photos: Brian Ertz – 2/20/08

I hope you all enjoyed the lunar eclipse last evening



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  1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I think what they are up to is a diversion and a firewall against imminent change in the national administration.

    There is no sudden need for this in Idaho, as you say, Brian, “what is this about?” The need is that an election is coming and SFW has failed to defend an icon among trophy hunters — bighorn sheep in Idaho.

    I think they hope that this mostly symbolic issue will drown out news about the woolgrowers gaining the ability to decimate Idaho’s bighorn sheep herd as well as the effects probable loss of the White House (and so the Dept. of Interior and Agriculture).

  2. JB Avatar

    I’ll agree with Ralph that this is a mostly symbolic gesture, but I hardly think that the state should amend its constitution to make “[p]ublic hunting, fishing and trapping …the preferred means of managing and controlling species.”

    First, this only works for species that people want to hunt. Second, it only works if there are enough hunters, anglers, and trappers available to harvest huntable, fishable, or trappable animals in the “right” locations (this is far from a given). Third, and most importantly, it suggests that consumptive uses of wildlife should trump all other forms of wildlife-related recreation, and lethal control (e.g. hunting) should trump non-lethal control as the preferred method of “managing” (i.e. killing) wildlife.

  3. Dan Stebbins Avatar

    Isn’t this somewhat akin to congress passing a ‘constitutional amendment” for people to be allowed to drive cars?
    We do this anyway, congratulations Idaho on your incredible redundancy.

  4. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    The public trust doctrine, which is an original burden on sovereignty in Anglo-American jurisprudence, already covers what the resolution facially asserts. To that extent, Ralph is right–it is mostly symbolic and seems to be primarily oriented toward predators. It also privileges consumptive use over non-consumptive use, which would be a violation of the public trust, in my view.

    On the other hand, I can see an interpretation of this language that seriously impairs the claims of private, commercial interests to public wildlife. The key word is “public.” There are a lot of thorns in that thicket for greedy Brer Rabbit. Could this language not be used to ban game ranches?

    In other words, this resolution, if added to the Idaho constitution, could backfire on its supporters, such as outfitters, landowners who want to market hunt, and game ranchers/farmers.

    The first question to ask is, just who is sponsoring this resolution? Where it comes from is a good indicator of its intended purpose.

    But what I’m really interested in is possible unintended consequences.

  5. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    P.S. Brian, yes, I truly enjoyed the lunar eclipse with a glass of Wild Turkey. Well, several glasses. It was a long eclipse!


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Brian Ertz