MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Animal protection groups are launching a battle to defeat a proposed hunting and fishing amendment to the Minnesota constitution.
It will pit hunters and anglers against animal rights advocates, with both sides lining up to persuade the nonhunting majority to support their position.
The Humane Society of the United States and Friends of Animals and Their Environment (FATE) plan to announce their campaign at a news conference Monday in Minneapolis. The North Star Chapter of the Sierra Club also recently passed a resolution opposing the amendment. The environmental group doesn’t oppose hunting or fishing, but does oppose trapping.
FATE director Howard Goldman said Friday his group and the Humane Society oppose the amendment because it would establish constitutional protections for the use of leg-hold traps and the groups say the amendment simply doesn’t belong in the state constitution.
“We’re very concerned about trapping, particularly the leg-hold trap,” Goldman said. “In our judgment, it’s barbaric.
“We also don’t believe it’s appropriate to provide protections for recreational pursuits or pastimes, while basic needs such as food, shelter and health care are not addressed.”
Supporters say the amendment is needed to head off attacks to hunting, fishing and trapping by animal rights groups. After years of debate, the Legislature last session approved offering the amendment to voters.
It reads: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to affirm that hunting and fishing and the taking of game and fish are a valued part of our heritage and shall forever be preserved for the people and shall be managed by law and regulation for the public good?”
Joe Duggan of Pheasants Forever said the amendment protects citizens from attacks by animal rights groups.
“These outdoor traditions have been part of a way of life in Minnesota, and all this amendment would do is affirm these traditions into the future,” he said.
“They don’t want to just end trapping, they want to end all of these activities. Hopefully, the people who enjoy these activities will stand up for them.”
The Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance, a coalition of most of the state’s outdoors and conservation groups, has been raising money to push for the amendment, called Amendment 2 on the ballot. Officials earlier said their goal was to raise $700,000. The Humane Society has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in other states over similar issues.
“We’re hoping they do the same here,” Goldman said.
Ginny Yingling, state director of the Sierra Club, said her group won’t actively campaign against the measure but had to oppose it because of the trapping implications.
“A lot of our members are hunters and fishermen, and we support that strongly,” she said. “But we worry it will open the floodgates on trapping.”
A majority of those who vote in the November election must approve the amendment for its passage. Those who vote for governor, for example, but don’t vote on the amendment question are essentially casting a “no” vote.