UPDATE: This “Grand Slam” big-game hunting bill has been shot down for 2018 after activists, including FoA’s assistant Wildlife Law Program director, testified against it at a hearing on Tuesday. Check out our post to learn more.
Colorado lawmakers are considering legislation allowing for the creation of a raffle that would offer licenses to hunters to kill an array of Big Game species in the state including moose, black bears, mountain lions, elk, deer, bighorn sheep, goat, and antelope.
For $50 hunters would be able to enter a lottery to obtain the license. In fact, they can purchase up to 25 raffle tickets. And where does all this revenue go? To state coffers and to a committee made up of hunters who will then dole out the proceeds to organizations engaged in the recruitment of, wait for it, new hunters. Some of it also gets to go to a nonprofit chosen by the committee of hunters to administer the raffle and to wildlife habitat conservation and restoration efforts, again, as defined by the hunters on the committee.
All this at a time when the numbers of hunters in the state overall have declined 6 percent between 2003 and 2017. In fact, according the 2011 census, Colorado residents that participate in wildlife-watching outnumber those that participate in hunting by more than 9:1. Hunters represent a small minority of Colorado’s population – just 4.6 percent.
“The Grand Slam Wildlife Hunting Raffle, and the hunting grant committee, alienate the interest of the vast majority of Coloradoans, whom are not hunters,’’ said Friends of Animals Wildlife Law Program Assistant Director Jennifer Best, who will be presenting testimony against the bill before the state’s Senate Finance Committee. “There is no reason to promote hunting through a raffle where proceeds are not likely to benefit wildlife.”
A growing number of scientists and state wildlife management agencies acknowledge that random killing of wildlife — the raffle will allow — is not consistent with modern principles of sound wildlife management. In fact, trophy hunting, especially of key predator species such as mountain lions and bears, damages the social structure of the population and undermines the key role they play in diverse ecosystems.
“This raffle is not based on science or the need to remove wildlife,” said Best. “Rather, it is for the interests of individual hunters and hunting organizations that stand to profit.”
A hearing on the bill, S.B. 18-137, has been postponed. But you can call your legislative representatives and tell them to vote against the Big Game Raffle bill. If you are a Colorado resident, you can find your state senator here.
This post was updated on 2/13/18.