by Cody McLaughlin - Monday, July 19, 2021
Big stakes have hit the initiative petition process in Oregon after a controversial measure to criminalize hunting, fishing and other activities moved into the signature-gathering phase. If it makes it onto the November 2022 ballot and passes, Initiative Petition (IP) 13—known as the “Abuse, Neglect and Assault Exemption Modification and Improvement Act to amend Chapter 167 of the Oregon Revised Statutes”—would ban and criminalize all hunting, fishing, trapping and regulated animal husbandry and farming practices under the state’s animal cruelty laws. The lone exception: self-defense against an animal presenting an “apparent threat of immediate violence.”The activities IP 13 would prohibit include:
“IP 13 would have a fatal effect on the conservation of Oregon’s natural resources by making hunting and fishing licenses a relic of the past,” said Aoibheann Cline, the lead NRA attorney and Oregon State Director involved in fighting IP 13. “The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, whose mission is to protect and enhance Oregon's fish and wildlife and their habitats for use and enjoyment by present and future generations, derives one-third of its annual revenue through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses. Elimination of this funding source will have a detrimental impact on wildlife management, fish and wildlife populations, habitat restoration and equitable access to the outdoors.”
The full text of the initiative’s language can be found here.
What’s Next in This Fight?
IP 13, widely panned by state and national newspapers as both “ridiculous” and “something you have to take seriously,” is hurtling toward making the 2022 ballot. On June 21, the Oregon Attorney General’s office revised the ballot language based on comments submitted by a coalition of sporting groups including the Oregon Hunters Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Wild Sheep Foundation, Oregon Outdoor Council, Oregon Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Oregon Trappers Association, Sportsmen’s Alliance, National Wild Turkey Federation and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation.
On July 6, a key deadline to appeal the certified ballot language passed with no appeals being filed. As such, the certified ballot language stands as is and the clock begins for the proponents to gather the 112,020 signatures needed by June 2022 to place the initiative on the November 2022 ballot. The pro-side is being spearheaded by dark-money group End Animal Cruelty led by Oregon anti-hunting extremist David Michelson. The group currently has just $2,500 cash on hand, which is expected to change quickly due to Oregon’s lax campaign financing laws.
The Importance of Getting out the Vote
Oregon’s ballot measure process is among the strongest in America, giving citizens—and sometimes extremists—broad power to enact laws through a public vote. We have seen this used to hurt Oregon hunters before, with the 1994 passage of Measure 18 (by just 3 percent of the vote, or just over 43,500 votes) that banned the hunting of bears over bait and with dogs. Now Oregon hunters are faced with the fight of their lives, this time against a full-out ban-and-criminalization of the sporting lifestyle.
This petition should be a wake-up call to all hunters, fishermen, trappers, farmers, veterinarians, members of the public who enjoy a steak, dairy products, eggs or fish or really any Oregonian with common sense. This initiative is real. If it is not stopped before the ballot, Oregonians had better be registered to vote as their lifestyle, and in some cases livelihoods, will depend on defeating it next November.
About the Author
A recent new resident of Alaska, Cody McLaughlin is a conservationist advocate on public policy issues including hunting, fishing, gun rights, free-market tax and wage policy and the environment. He works as a GOP consultant for conservative political causes, managing clients’ digital communications and online presence and as a trustee of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance, helping to represent the state’s 1.2 million sportsmen in the political arena.
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