Voters in six states will on Tuesday, November 8, 2016 consider ballot measures of significance to animals.
California Proposition 67
California Proposition 67, if passed, would affirm a state ban on plastic grocery bags. Plastic grocery bags are only one source of plastic pollution afflicting wildlife, but are among the most dangerous, since they are often ingested by grazing animals on land, and sea turtles in aquatic environments, and as they fragment, contribute to an oceanic accumulation of plastic estimated at more than 5.25 trillion particles cumulatively weighing more than 269,000 metric tons. (The math was done in 2013 by the Five Gyres Institute, representing scientists from the U.S., France, Chile, Australia, and New Zealand, who published their findings in December 2014 in the online journal PLOS One.)
Proposition 67 appears to be leading in the most recent polls by a margin of 49-35, with 16% undecided, and about 12% of the voters admitting to being confused by the presence on the California ballot of another measure pertaining to plastic bags, Proposition 65, which could undercut the effect of Proposition 67.
Colorado Amendment 71
Colorado Amendment 71 would change the requirement for putting state constitutional amendments on the ballot. The current requirement is that proponents of a constitutional initiative must gather signatures equivalent to 5% of the registered voters statewide to qualify the initiative for voter consideration. Amendment 71, if passed, would require the petitioners to collect signatures equivalent to 2% of the voters in each of the 36 Colorado state senate districts.
Amendment 71 was specifically inspired by the success of the Humane Society of the U.S. in passing ballot initiatives.
“We worked to pass a measure to ban black bear hunting in the spring,” blogged HSUS president Wayne Pacelle, “when mothers nurse their young and shooting the mom dooms the cubs. More than two-thirds of the voters supported the ballot measure, yet there was an immediate effort to overturn it. And now, after voters moved to protect their desires by gaining approval of a constitutional amendment outlawing steel-jaw and body-gripping animal traps, lawmakers have responded with Amendment 71.”
Polls show Amendment 71 likely to pass with a majority of from 51% to 54%.
Massachusetts Question 3
Animal advocates appear to be almost certain to win passage of Question 3 in Massachusetts, which would require that eggs sold in the state be produced by free-ranging hens, pork products come from pigs not raised in or born of a sow raised in a farrowing crate, and veal come from non-crate-confined calves.
Leading 66% to 28% in recent polls, Question 3 is endorsed by the Massachusetts SPCA, Animal Rescue League of Boston, and the Humane Society of the U.S., among many other animal charities, but is opposed by the National Pork Producers Council and oil magnate Forrest Lucas.
Montana Initiative 177
In Montana, anesthesiologist Timothy Provow has funded Initiative 177, his third attempt since 2010 to restrict the use of leghold traps and wire snares on public lands. A Montana constitutional amendment passed in 2004 established a “constitutional right” to hunt and trap. None of Provow’s initiatives have come close to passage, and Initiative 177 has attracted just 24% support in pre-election polls, against 63% opposition with 13% undecided.
The 5,000 to 6,000 licensed trappers in Montana have killed between 52,922 and 72,591 animals in each of the past four trapping seasons. The two species most often trapped, muskrats and coyotes, tend to make up about half of each year’s total.
Oregon Measure 100
Oregon voters, according to recent polls, are likely to pass Measure 100 with as much as 85% support. Modeled on measures already in effect in California, Washington, and Hawaii, Measure 100 would ban the sale of products and parts from 12 categories of endangered or at-risk species: elephant, rhinoceros, whale, tiger, lion, leopard, cheetah, jaguar, pangolin, sea turtle, ray, and sharks, except for spiny dogfish, the most common species in Oregon waters. Exempt from the ban would be antiques more than 100 years old, fixed components of musical instruments, inherited items, donations made for scientific or educational purposes, and animal parts possessed by enrolled members of Native American tribes.
Oklahoma State Question 777
Oklahoma State Question 777 would establish a constitutional “right to farm.”
Charged Pacelle, “It’s really more accurately described as a ‘right to harm’ – forbidding local governments, the state legislature, or even the people, through the initiative process, from placing any restraints on any form of agriculture.”
If passed, State Question 777 would primarily protect factory farmers from prosecution for creating manure pollution of air and water, and from the passage and enforcement of anti-cruelty measures protecting farmed animals.
“The measure is so broadly worded that it could prevent future restrictions on any ‘agricultural’ practice, including puppy mills, horse slaughter, and raising gamefowl for cockfighting,” assessed Pacelle.
The most recent Sooner Poll showed support for State Question 777 had dropped from 49% to 37% since the beginning of October 2016, while opposition had increased to 49%, with 14% undecided.