A reality based independent journal of observation & analysis, serving the Flathead Valley & Montana since 2006. © James Conner.

3 February 2015

Democrat Zac Perry votes with GOP on HB-212


Updated at 1804 MST to clarify that the proposed trapping ban initiative would apply only to public lands. Columbia Falls Democrat Rep. Zac Perry was one of five Democrats who voted with the Republicans on HB-212, short title “ Reaffirm that trapping is a form of hunting protected under MT Constitution,” on the bill’s third reading. The final tally: 64 Aye, 35 Nay, one excused. Whitefish Democrat Ed Lieser joined the rest of the Democrats in voting Nay.

Here are the other Democratic defectors:

Perry, Zac3Hungry Horse
Kipp, George15Heart Butte
Mehlhoff, Robert (Bob)22Great Falls
Peppers, Rae41Lame Deer
McCarthy, Kelly49Billings

Opponents of trapping — the cruelest way of killing wild animals — hope to put a citizens initiative outlawing trapping on public lands on the 2016 general election ballot. Led by Rep. Kirk Wagoner (R-Montana City), the legislators behind HB-212 believe the bill can define trapping as a constitutionally protected activity that can be repealed only through a constitutional initiative. Here’s the salient part of Montana’s constitution:

Article IX, Section 7. Preservation of harvest heritage. The opportunity to harvest wild fish and wild game animals is a heritage that shall forever be preserved to the individual citizens of the state and does not create a right to trespass on private property or diminution of other private rights.

History: En. Sec. 1, Const. Amend. No. 41, approved Nov. 2, 2004

In both Article IX, Section 7, and HB-212, “harvest” is a euphemism for “killing.” Harvest is what Uncle Charlie does when he picks the corn on his back 40. Kill is what he does when gut shoots Bambi. But when Uncle Charlie uses a leg trap to slowly and painfully end the life of a beaver, he’s neither harvesting nor killing: he’s torturing.

I don’t know whether HB-212 will stand up in court. But I think it might be headed there. And the delay while the court is deciding the matter might not leave enough time to collect the signatures to put the measure on the ballot.