A ballot proposition promoted as a way to safeguard the right to fish and hunt in Arizona would politicize decisions about wildlife by giving the Legislature sole authority, leaders of a new campaign against the measure said Friday.
“It’s just one more bad idea from one of the most dysfunctional legislatures we’ve seen,” Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter, said at a news conference announcing the effort against Proposition 109.
Authored by Rep. Jerry Weiers, R-Glendale, and referred to voters by the Legislature, Proposition 109 would establish the “right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife lawfully.” It would prohibit any law or rule that unreasonably restricts hunting or fishing.
It also would give the Legislature exclusive authority to enact laws regulating the manner, methods and seasons for hunting and fishing. Lawmakers could still delegate rule-making authority to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, which currently establishes policy for hunting and fishing.
Calling their effort Arizonans Against the Power Grab, the state Sierra Club, The Humane Society of the United States and the Animal Defense League of Arizona filed paperwork Friday establishing a committee to oppose Proposition 109.
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, said that giving lawmakers exclusive authority to make laws involving hunting and fishing would hinder the ability of citizens to put forward their own ballot initiatives, and not just on hunting and fishing.
“Today it’s wildlife,” Pacelle said. “But it could be any other cause in the future.”
Weiers didn’t respond Friday to a message left with the House Republican spokesman. Cronkite News Service was unable to reach representatives of hunting and outdoors groups that registered support for the measure.
Twelve other states include the right to hunt and fish in their constitutions, while Tennessee, South Carolina and Arkansas are voting on similar propositions this year, according to Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy.
Bahr called the ballot measure a “proposition in search of a problem” that would undermine a system that now uses science rather than politics to regulate hunting and fishing.
“The people of Arizona support animal welfare,” she said.
Some provisions of Proposition 109:
• Declares hunting and fishing a constitutional right of Arizona citizens.
• Specifies that wildlife belongs to the state and its citizens.
• Gives the Legislature exclusive authority to enact laws to regulate hunting and fishing.
• Allows the legislature to delegate rule-making authority to the state Game and Fish Commission.
• Prohibits any law or rule that unreasonably restricts hunting or fishing using traditional means.