Legislature should overturn Washington trapping ban

spectr17

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State should overturn law on trapping.

2002-02-20

Eastside Journal (Bellvue, WA)

Our state Senate has taken an important and needed step in overriding a recent initiative that bans most animal trapping. Though voters approved I-713 in 2000, its destructive effects have now become evident. The House now should show equal leadership and help repeal the ban.

I-713 sounded good to many as it painted a picture of animals caught in cruel traps or killed with poison. In fact, I-713 was a poorly crafted measure that ignored scientific wildlife management.

Farmers in Eastern Washington now see an onslaught of coyotes snatching lambs and calves from rural ranchers' fields. Here in the suburbs -- well, remember those pre-election promises by I-713 backers that the initiative didn't apply to moles? Ha! We now have a mountain of mole hills in our backyards, parks and playing fields since the Department of Fish and Wildlife interpreted the initiative to ban mole and gopher traps.

Moles live alone, but they can burrow as fast as one foot per minute. A single mole can be responsible for considerable damage to a lawn or garden and tear up soccer and baseball fields, making play dangerous.

Instead of effective traps that actually work, we're reduced to using a variety of home remedies that include pinwheels, rose thorns, castor beans, used cat litter, kerosene and even chewing gum. Unfortunately, most home remedies fail. Those homeowners who give up and use a trap face a troubling decision: get caught and you could face a $5,000 fine.

I-713 never was needed in the first place. Current state law already had severely restricted the use of trapping and prohibited the poisoning of most animals. One of the poisons mentioned in the initiative already is banned in this state and the other only can be used by federal wildlife officials to control coyotes.

Passing I-713 was a mistake and now the Legislature has the chance to correct it. The House needs two-thirds of its members to vote to overturn this initiative. It should.
 



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February 23, 2002

Animal-welfare activists rally to save ban on gripping traps

By Melanthia Mitchell, The Associated Press

OLYMPIA — Animal-welfare advocates are staging what may be a futile effort to stop state lawmakers from repealing a voter-passed ban on most animal trapping in Washington.
Stunned by a recent Senate vote approving the repeal, members of the Humane Society of the United States, the Northwest Animal Rights Network and the Progressive Animal Welfare Society crowded a House hearing room yesterday, urging lawmakers not to overturn the voters' decision.

"The people of this state feel very strongly about the use of these traps," said Lisa Wathne, director of the Humane Society's Pacific Northwest regional office.

Wathne's group sponsored Initiative 713, which bans the use of body-gripping traps to catch any mammal for recreation or commerce in fur. The measure passed with 55 percent of the vote in 2000.

Rep. Jim Buck, R-Joyce, Clallam County, chairman of the GOP caucus, criticized Wathne during the hearing as having knowingly misrepresented the initiative to get votes. She denied any deception, saying voters were fully informed about the provisions.

Proponents of the repeal legislation, Senate Bill 5831, say voters did not understand the scope of the initiative and its effects on agriculture, logging and suburban owners' property.

Since it passed, complaints of moles damaging lawns and coyotes snatching ranchers' livestock have greatly increased.

"The initiative needs to be repealed because it wouldn't have passed if they had been truthful," Buck said after the hearing.

Rep. Dave Upthegrove, D-Des Moines, spoke in support of the initiative, saying he clearly understood what it meant when he voted for it.

He recommended amending I-713 to address any problems.

"It makes me sick to my stomach, the fact that we're considering overturning the initiative," Upthegrove said in an interview. "It's a slap in the face of the voters."

It's likely that the House Natural Resources Committee will approve the bill or an amended version, said Chairman Mark Doumit, who supports outright repeal.

"The initiative process needs to be very honest, just like the legislative process," said Doumit, D-Cathlamet, Wahkiakum County.

Buck predicted the House will muster the necessary two-thirds vote to approve the repeal, making I-713 the first citizen initiative ever to be overturned in its entirety by the Legislature.

On Monday, 38 of 49 Senate members voted to repeal it, easily surpassing the two-thirds majority needed there.

Wathne argued that the Senate's vote was an unexpected attack on the initiative. She questioned lawmakers' motives for repealing the initiative rather than amending it to allow for use of traps on animals such as moles and gophers.

"Legislators are catering to the fur trappers and ranchers of this state," she said.
 

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Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Watchdog agency says trapping foes violated finance law

By Paul Queary,The Associated Press

OLYMPIA — The campaign for Washington's anti-trapping initiative committed multiple violations of campaign-finance law, the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) ruled yesterday. The state's campaign watchdog sent the case to Attorney General Christine Gregoire, who has power to seek steep fines.

The commission found Protect Our Pets and Wildlife illegally failed to report massive purchases of television-advertising time until just days before the 2000 election, when Initiative 713 passed with nearly 55 percent of the vote. I-713 bans the use of body-gripping traps to catch any mammal for recreation or commerce in fur.

"They looked at all of the information and said that in their minds there were apparent multiple violations and that the penalty authority of the commission was not adequate to redress the harm," said Doug Ellis, a spokesman for the campaign-watchdog agency.

State law requires regular disclosure of campaign spending, in part to give election opponents and others some insight into campaign strategy. For example, big spending on television time indicates an impending advertising blitz, and learning of such a push can give opponents time to respond.

Ed Owens, who led the opposition to I-713, brought the original complaint against Protect Our Pets and Wildlife after discovering orders for advertising time in TV-station records that hadn't been disclosed to the PDC.

"It reinforces everything we've said for the last 15 months about how the voters of Washington state were misled," Owens said of the commission's ruling.

The campaign reported a single $535,205 expenditure for television time in its Oct. 26 report to the commission.

The commission's staffers contend the purchase — actually multiple orders placed over several weeks by a consultant — should have been reported in detail on Oct. 17. The time was ordered as early as Aug. 31, although the ads ran in the crucial final stage of the campaign — late October and early November.

Campaign officials contend there was no obligation to pay the stations until the campaign began cutting checks on Oct. 18.

"The fact that we offered to buy time isn't an order," said Shawn Newman, the group's attorney. Newman said he welcomed the attorney general's investigation because the PDC's handling of the case has taken so long. Yesterday's hearing was the fourth the commission has held on the case.

"It's good to get beyond the PDC to some more objective party to take a look at it," Newman said.

But the PDC typically turns to the Attorney General's Office for a harsher penalties because the commission's authority to levy fines is capped at $2,500 per case. The attorney general could seek fines of as much as $10,000 for each violation, which could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

After the Attorney General's Office reviews the case, it could conduct further investigation before dismissing the case, trying to reach a settlement or going to court.

Meanwhile, Owens is continuing his bid to have I-713 overturned by the Legislature, which requires two-thirds votes in both the House and the Senate. The Senate voted 38-11 last week for repeal, the first time either house has moved to overturn a citizen's initiative.

Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, and other initiative foes said the sponsors misled voters with emotional appeals and bad information, without weighing the impact. Advocates of repeal said wildlife complaints have soared — moles tearing up lawns and soccer fields, beavers swamping reforested timber lands, and coyotes snatching lambs and calves.

But House Co-Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, told reporters Monday the I-713 repeal legislation — as well as a move to block Initiative 732 that gave 3.6 percent cost-of-living raises to teachers — are dead in the House.

More than one-third of House members, himself included, oppose repeal, meaning the necessary supermajority will be impossible, he said.

Owens refused to concede defeat on the anti-trapping measure.

"I think we're six votes short. It's still an open question. We're not giving up," he said.
 

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House balks at overturning ban on trapping.

While Senate has voted to repeal law, lawmaker says votes lacking in House

Richard Roesler - Spokane Spokesman Review Staff writer.

2/27/02

OLYMPIA -- Moles and gophers, rest easy.

Despite a supportive Senate, the House of Representatives' top lawmaker says the House isn't about to overturn a 2-year-old trapping ban.


House Speaker Frank Chopp said he doesn't think the House could muster a two-thirds majority, required because the ban was approved as a statewide voter initiative.


“I don't believe there's two-thirds to do that in the House," said Chopp, D-Seattle.


The Senate managed it last week, with 38 of 49 senators voting to repeal Initiative 713.


The initiative banned body-gripping traps to capture most mammals for recreation or fur. Mice and rats were excluded, and backers told voters the ban wouldn't apply to gophers and moles. The state later ruled gophers and moles were, in fact, protected.


“It was a misinformation campaign," said Rep. Bob Sump, R-Republic.


He and other rural lawmakers have long opposed the trapping ban, which also protects coyotes and other livestock predators. When suburban lawmakers began hearing about moles and gophers digging up yards, ball fields and cemeteries, the Senate found enough votes to OK the unprecedented step of overturning a citizens' initiative.


In the past week, lawmakers have been hearing a lot about the vote. E-mails have flooded in from San Diego, Illinois, even Scotland, as pro- or anti-trapping groups weighed in on the change.


“We sent out 16,000 post cards to notify some of our members," said Lisa Wathne, director of the Humane Society of the United States office in Seattle. “The Legislature is hearing from some very angry people."


Some lawmakers say they're reluctant to change anything that 1.3 million voters approved, especially after only two years.


“The people have spoken," said Rep. Alex Wood, D-Spokane.


Others argue that the initiative, in protecting moles and gophers, isn't what voters thought they were approving.


“If it has unintended consequences, we should have the guts to go after it," said Rep. Larry Crouse, R-Spokane, who said it should at least be modified.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.
 


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