DENVER–The proponents of a citizen-initiated ballot measure to ban so-called “trophy hunting” of mountain lions and other cats in Colorado have thus far raised over $200,000 towards the effort, with the overwhelming majority coming from out-of-state animal rights interests.
In a January 16 filing with the Colorado Secretary of State, the issue committee backing the measure (Cats Aren’t Trophies) reports raising just over $218,000 in the last quarter of 2023, with another roughly $60,000 in ‘non-monetary’ contributions. Of that, $100,000 comes from the Washington, DC-based Animal Wellness Action, with another $2087 in-kind donation of “personnel services” provided. The group lists a Colorado state director on its website as the campaign manager for the effort, currently numbered as Initiative #91.
Another $100,000 comes from the Center for a Humane Economy, Inc., which boasts a Bethesda, Maryland post office box as an address, and which gave another $58, 525 as an in-kind donation of “personnel and consulting” services. The group lists Animal Wellness Action as a “partner” organization.
The next largest contributor is Coloradan Patrick Craig, founder of the Keenesburg-based Wild Animal Sanctuary, with $10, 325.20.
The two animal rights groups are involved in numerous other campaigns, both in the US and around the world, which include, among other things, efforts against milk in school lunches, the use of Kangaroo leather in shoes, and the killing of livestock depradating wolves.
The filing lists only some bank fees as expenses for the reporting period. And while the Initiative 91 petition was approved for circulation in January, no paid signature gathering firms have registered to circulate the measure as of yet. To put the issue on the 2024 state-wide ballot, proponents have until July 5 to turn in 124, 238 valid signatures from registered voters to the Secretary of State’s office.
While the ballot measure purports to ban only “trophy hunting,” the proposed statute broadly defines such hunting as: “Intentionally killing, wounding, or entrapping a mountain lion, bobcat, or lynx,” which in practice means a ban on hunting the animals entirely, according to Dan Gates from Coloradans for Responsible wildlife Management, a pro-hunting group that opposes the measure.
“They say they want to curtail trophy hunting, but the definition in the petition says ‘intentional killing,’” Gates previously said. “All of hunting is intentional killing. If they are going to classify that hunting as intentional killing, how can they not be for getting rid of all forms of hunting?”
Colorado already requires edible parts of a mountain lion to be “prepared for human consumption” by hunters (the four quarters, tenderloins and backstraps, at a minimum) meaning the killing of a lion just for the taking of a trophy is already illegal.
An issue committee to oppose the measure, Colorado’s Wildlife Deserve Better, was formed in January. The next contribution and expenditure reporting deadline for issue committees is May 6, and covers January through May.
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