Fishing & Boating News


by: Babe Winkelman, Babe Winkelman Productions

(Tuesday, December 15,1998 - Brainerd, MN) To borrow a phrase from the tired vernacular of the politicians, sportsmen sent a clear message to lawmakers in the November election. California's disappointing--but hardly surprising--vote on trapping was the only blemish in an election year when sportsmen finally took on the antis.

Perhaps the most significant victories occurred in Wisconsin, where 76% of the voters approved the right to keep and bear arms, and Minnesota, where 77% of voters supported a constitutional amendment preserving forever the right to hunt and fish.

Other victories came in Alaska, where 63% of the voters rejected a ban on snaring of wolves; Ohio, where 60% of the voters rejected an initiated measure to ban dove hunting, and Utah and Wyoming, where measures that would have toughen the voting requirements for initiated measures that would have toughened the voting requirements for initiated measures and wildlife-related issues, each went the sportsmen's way.

A group called Save the Dove Committee sponsored the initiated measure in Ohio to ban the hunting of mourning doves. According to Rick Story of the Wildlife Legislative Fund of America (WLFA), the impetus and money behind the group came from national animal rights organizations Fund for Animals and the Human Society. "Even PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) spent some money, which I believe is a first for them," says Story.

PETA was up to its ears in Minnesota's constitutional amendment to protect hunting and fishing, too. Holding hands with Friends of Animals and Their Environment )FATE), the Humane Society of the United States and a local chapter of the Sierra Club, the antis made their voices heard in the recent election.

Also opposing the amendment were the editorial boards of the state's two largest newspapers, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

"We took them all on and we won, " said a jubilant Joe Duggan of St. Paul-based conservation organization Pheasants Forever. "I think passage of this amendment has far-reaching implications for sportsmen around the country," says Duggan, who worked tirelessly for passage of the amendment as part of the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Foundation.

"We're hoping our victory will provide the impetus for other states to follow suit," he says. "For too long sportsmen have been considered 'paper tigers'. After this vote, when Minnesota sportsmen talk, politicians will have to sit up and take notice."

Duggan said his biggest disappointment was lack of support from the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, a group representing state wildlife managers around the country. "Basically, they said supporting this amendment wasn't the politically correct thing to do," Duggan said.

Minnesota sportsmen also approved a constitutional amendment that continues funding the state's Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund with lottery proceeds. Earnings on the trust, which has a market value of about $235 million, are used to fund a variety of environmental and natural resources projects that don't receive traditional state funding.

The fund is expected to provide $25 million for resource work during the 1999-2001 biennium. Without the amendment, that funding would have ended after that period. Now funding will continue until the year 2025.

Like the hunting and fishing amendment, the trust fund got a thumbs-up from 77% of Minnesota's voters.

all things considered, it was a good election for sportsmen.

Tune into Babe Winkelman's award-winning television show "Good Fishing" on Superstation WGN at 1:00 am Friday night, 9:00 am Saturday morning and 2:30 am Saturday night (all Central). For information regarding Babe Winkelman's new club, "Society of Outdoor Sportsmen," call toll free 1-800-333-0471 (Monday-Friday, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm Central) or write to: S.O.S., PO Box 407, Brainerd, MN 56401.