Hunting measure impact unknown

BISMARCK – There are no known added expenses to the government if voters approve an initiated measure related to fee hunting of captive exotic and native game animals, lawmakers learned Thursday.

Voters will decide in November whether people should be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor if they obtain payment for the killing or attempted killing of privately-owned big game species or exotic mammals in or released from a man-made enclosure.

The measure doesn’t apply to authorized government employees or agents controlling an animal population or preventing or controlling diseases.

The Legislative Management meeting Thursday was not an opportunity to debate the issue but to determine what the fiscal impact of the measure may be, said Chairman Rep. Al Carlson, R-Fargo.

The State Board of Animal Health doesn’t know what the impact may be, said Beth Carlson, deputy state veterinarian.

The board regulates all nontraditional livestock and farmed elk facilities in the state, she said. However, there are no specific requirements for hunting or game animal operations.

Therefore, the board isn’t sure if it would be responsible for enforcement or investigations if the measure passes, Carlson said. If the board needs to do monitoring to enforce the law, several employees would be needed to do so, she said.

The board knows there are 103 cervid farms in the state, but they aren’t required to say if they offer hunting as a service, she said.

“So, we don’t really know how many of those farms offer this type of service, and we don’t know how many farms sell to those operations that offer those services,” Carlson said.

Greg Link, assistant wildlife chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, also said his agency doesn’t regulate the hunting aspect of the privately owned operations. However, he estimated about a dozen farmed deer and elk operations in the state provide fee hunts.

There would be little to no fiscal impact to the department if the measure passed, Link said. Whether the impacted operations would continue without fee hunts is unknown, he said. There isn’t data of the revenues they obtain from those services, Link said.

Shawn Schafer of the North Dakota Deer Ranchers Association told lawmakers there’s a possibility of a lawsuit if the measure passes.

North Dakotans will vote on the measure Nov. 2.