It’s that time.
Time to vote.
Hounded, Cowed, & Badgered – a blog about U.S. law and nonhuman animals – has a post up about voting in the US right now.
They’ve listed animal-issue ballot items with a recommended vote.
Arkansas. Issue 1, if passed, would recognize a constitutional right to hunt, fish, and “harvest wildlife.” It would also set these activities as the preferred method of wildlife control. The language would benefit from a comma, as a hasty reader might be shocked that “[p]ublic hunting, fishing, and trapping shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling nonthreatened species and citizens….” (The rest of the sentence makes clear humans are not in fact in danger.)
Arizona: Prop 109 would also enshrine a constitutional right to hunt and fish, and make hunting and fishing the preferred method of wildlife population control. In addition, the measure would shift the power to regulate those activities to the legislature, which may in turn, delegate it back to a commission, which presumably would keep doing what its doing. Feeling dizzy? This move contrasts with Arkansas’s Issue 1, which expressly retains power for its game and fish commission, which is itself constitutionally based (see amend. 35). In a fine analysis, Kristin Borns and CJ Eisenbarth Hager point out potential problems with some vague language in the measure. Vote NO.
Missouri. Prop B sets regulations for large-scale “puppy mills,” including giving dogs space to move around and to exercise. In contrast to the position of some in the debate over Prop 2 in California, it seems unlikely that the proposed regulations could increase the number of animals bred. Rather, it would reduce the scale of breeding operations and (if enforced) improve the conditions of animals being bred. Vote YES.
North Dakota. The North Dakota Constitution already has two provisions recognizing the value of hunting. Measure 2 would criminalize canned hunts of big game and “exotic animals.” The measure’s proponents claim it reflects “Fair Chase” principles. For folks opposed to factory farming, some of their ideas might be appealing: no breeding programs, no feeders, no government culls. People opposed to animal exploitation for food and recreation, however supposedly benign, could be less easily persuaded. For me, the question is whether fewer animals will be killed or wounded.
Supporters claim canned hunting makes all hunting look bad. Would a NO vote then reduce hunting? I doubt it. This is rare case where criminalizing an act might actually stop abuse. The proprietors of canned hunting ranches are businesspeople and, if there is enforcement, would be forced to shut down. If less canned hunting meant less hunting, I’d say to vote YES. But this is the sort of dispute, between different types of hunters, that I find difficult to find a good ethical position on.
South Carolina. Amendment 1 would recognize a right “to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife traditionally pursued.” The invocation of tradition could be a loophole: it would be hard to argue hunting “traditionally” occurred with high-powered scopes, or fishing with sonar and GPS (not that any law coming down the pike would ban these tools). Vote NO.
Tennessee. An amendment to the constitution would create a “personal right to hunt and fish.” Vote NO.
They also say “For more election coverage, check out Animals & Politics, where Michael Markarian has been doing an excellent job, especially on the Arizona and Missouri ballot items.”