Should the 3% of Arizona that Hunts Control 100% of the Wildlife?

A Huge Crowd Wolf Watching in Yellowstone

A Huge Crowd Wolf Watching in Yellowstone

One of the creepiest ballot measures today is Proposition 109 in Arizona, which would enshrine hunting a constitutional right and the “preferred” method of dealing with wildlife. It would push aside the already contorted with fear Arizona Fish and Game Department and give up all control of the state’s wildlife to hunters and their politicians.

Most Americans don’t realize that their wildlife is already effectively managed for and by hunters. Arizona is voting on formally giving the 3% of its citizens who hunt priority over the 31% who prefer just to watch wildlife. The measure is also dumb financially. Wildlife watchers spend $789 million in Arizona each year, while hunters only spend $322 million.

No surprise, it’s from the NRA, which likes scare hunters (their most socially acceptable constituent base) into passing all kinds of paranoid, you-can’t-take-my-guns measures. Is there a real threat to hunting? No–aside from the dwindling number of old men who want to do it.  The Fish and Wildlife Service report on animal outdoor activities doesn’t break down historical numbers by state, but it shows that in the mountain region (which includes Arizona), 18% of residents 12 and up hunted in 1955, which fell to 12% in 1985. About 9% of hunters were at least in the latest survey and nearly one-quarter were 55 or older.

Meanwhile Arizona has some fantastic and rare wildlife that Americans would love to see–the Arizona politicians weren’t so creepy about it. There’s the biggest hummingbird population in the country, coatis, ringtails, roadrunners, elk, exotic Abert squirrels, deer, tortoises and the rarest mammal in America, the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf.

As the Humane Society’s Wayne Pacelle has explained, the bill is just another tactical maneuver to set up special hurdles that only apply to animal groups:

Just a few years after the anti-trapping initiative, in 2000, the NRA and the rest of the trophy hunting lobby succeeded in getting state politicians to place a measure on the ballot to create a higher threshold for passing wildlife protection initiatives in Arizona—a two-thirds vote, rather than the simple majority vote that is the standard for elections in a democratic society.

PARTICIPANTS Fishing % Hunting % Wildlife Watching %
TOTAL U.S. 29,962,000 13 12,534,000 5 71,0068,000 31
AZ 381,000 8 128,000 3 966,000 21
CA 1,694,000 6 318,000 1 5,800,000 21
CO 571,000 16 138,000 4 1,300,000 36
ID 222,000 20 121,000 11 432,000 39
MT 181,000 24 146,000 19 412,000 55
NV 157,000 8 57,000 3 453,000 24
NM 187,000 12 66,000 1 474,000 32
OR 483,000 17 219,000 8 1,266,000 44
UT 326,000 18 145,000 8 580,000 32
WA 702,000 14 194,000 4 2,000,000 40
WY 98,000 24 52,000 13 194,000 48
Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, 2006

Where to See Animals Out West

Want to Find Out the Wildlife Watching Stats for Your Region? Find it Here

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