Elk NetworkATTENTION: Oregon Initiative Seeks to Criminalize Hunting, Fishing, Farming

General | August 4, 2023

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is issuing a warning about a radical animal rights ballot initiative effort underway in Oregon that would make it illegal to hunt, fish, trap and would subsequently frustrate and annul proven, scientific wildlife management, including the North American Wildlife Conservation Model.

Initiative Petition 3 (IP3) criminalizes injuring or intentionally killing animals, including utilizing breeding practices and raising/killing livestock for food. Originally intended for Oregon’s November 2022 election, proponents regrouped and filed a ballot initiative for the 2024 November general election. To qualify, they must deliver 112,020 signatures for verification to the Oregon secretary of state by July 8, 2024.

Proponents claimed they passed the 30,000-signature mark in mid-July. They received a recent influx of $110,000 in campaign donations allowing them to pay signature gatherers. Campaign finance reports show the financial backers are Owen Gunden ($50,000), a philanthropist seeking “ambitious animal rights,” the Karuna Foundation in Colorado ($50,000) and Friends of DxE ($10,000), a network of “activists working to achieve revolutionary social and political change for animals.”

If passed, the initiative would severely hamstring the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in carrying out its mission to protect and enhance the state’s fish and wildlife and their habitats. Approximately 40 percent of ODFW’s budget is generated from hunting and fishing licenses and fees which are used to manage all wildlife species, not just those that are hunted. Fish populations would also be drastically impacted since the $203 million ODFW spends on fisheries and fish hatcheries would be cut off.

Proponents also ignore the importance of conservation funding generated by hunters. Federal excise taxes on guns, ammunition, archery equipment via the Pittman-Robertson Act generated more than $16 billion since its inception in 1937. A 2023 report also shines a spotlight on crucial conservation and economic funding generated by the firearm and ammunition industry. Combined with Dingell-Johnson Act excise taxes on fishing gear, that funding is returned to states, including Oregon, for various conservation, recreation and public access projects.

Additionally, banning hunting and fishing would severely limit or stop those traditions from being passed on to the next generation, thus removing vital revenue that would be generated by future generations of hunters and anglers.

Criminalizing hunting and fishing would have a detrimental, even catastrophic impact on Oregon’s economy. According to an ODFW report, hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers in Oregon spent $1.2 billion in 2019, which directly supported more than 11,000 jobs at motels, gas stations, shops, restaurants and other locally owned Oregon businesses. In addition, those activities generated $385 million in labor income and $51 million in state and local taxes.

Another great concern is food security. IP3 would remove the opportunity for sportsmen and women to maintain their own food security by outlawing the procurement of elk, deer, fish and other wildlife through hunting, fishing and trapping. In fact, it would force them to be dependent on others to provide meals for their families. Proponents state such on their website: “Oregon is a top-ranking producer of many field and seed crops, fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Within the state of Oregon we have ample food, as well as the resources needed to distribute that food to every citizen.”

IP3 would also prohibit ranchers from raising cattle and other livestock with the intent of breeding them and/or going to market to supply meat to fellow Americans. Instead, proponents “encourage ranchers to transition to an alternative agriculture practice” or “help operate an animal sanctuary.”

The initiative would also force the Future Farmers of America, 4-H and similar organizations as well as rodeos to “adapt” their programs and procedures to be in compliance or they too would be criminalized.

IP3 states “there would not be a cultural or religious exemption” for Native Americans to exercise hunting and fishing rights. It also bans using animals in a lab setting for furthering medical and disease research.

While IP3 is a ballot initiative focused on Oregon, proponents have their sights set on a much larger landscape. They plan on targeting hunting, fishing, farming and other mentioned activities nationwide across America: “Once successful in Oregon, we hope to bring similar initiatives to every state until the killing of animals is against the law nationwide.”

(Photo source: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)