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Big Green Blog

Ballot Box Biology

02.13.2024 | By Remington Contributor

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Ballot box biology – the act of putting biological decision making up for popular vote – threatens hunters in at least 26 states, and it’s something the hunting industry has a very difficult time defending.

We’ve seen ballot-box biology run rampant in states like Washington, where hounding and baiting for lions and bears has been banned, trapping has largely been ended and untold trespasses upon the Second Amendment. Arizona faced a ballot initiative that sought to end all hunting of mountain lions and bobcats in the state – thankfully new signature-gathering laws and a “Me Too” maelstrom that hit the CEO of the Humane Society of the United States derailed it. Colorado, however, just had wolves reintroduced by popular vote last year, and in 2024 will likely face an outright ban on lion and bobcat hunting and trapping at the ballot box.

But it’s not just blue West Coast states that have to fight these popular-vote shenanigans. Idaho faced a hounding ban the same year it passed in Washington. Michigan did, too. Maine has had to defend bear hunting with hounds, bait, and traps (97% of the harvest) not once, but twice (2004 and 2014).

Ballot box biology takes the emotional propaganda of the animal-rights movement and puts it up for popular vote. It’s a major tool within the “rewilding” movement, and it’s very difficult for the hunting community to defend against.

When it comes to the ballot box, it’s usually whichever side spends the most money buying airtime who wins. The Humane Society of the United States, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Mountain Lion Foundation, and other animal-rights organizations have hundreds of millions of dollars that they can spend. They also have the benefit of deciding when to launch a campaign, preparation, and organization beforehand.

The sportsman’s community must scramble to answer the breaking news, challenge the process after the other side has already started and must scrounge to raise funds in each state that suffers under the ballot process. Two million dollars to HSUS is easily budgeted – for hunters to raise the same in a single state (or multiple simultaneously) is very difficult.

Wildlife-management decisions are best left in the hands of trained biologists because it takes knowledgeable people to analyze data and understand the nuances of habitat-prey-predator balances. And let’s be honest, nature isn’t pretty and hunting often isn’t either, at least to the uninformed, which is where we lose the public relations messaging during campaigns.

For those two reasons, the animal-rights movement has an advantage over the hunting community, and it’s not coming to an end anytime soon. When you see wildlife-related ballot initiatives, you can bet national animal-rights organizations are behind the scenes developing messaging and funding it in an attempt to take management decision out of the hands of biologists and to put them into the hands of a largely ignorant public as a means to advance a larger agenda.

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