Between 1990 and 2008, animal advocates squared off against factory farmers, hunters, and other animal industries in 41 statewide ballot campaigns, winning in 28 campaigns and marking a huge surge in the use of the process on animal issues. To provide a contrast, in the previous 50 years—between 1940 and 1990—there were about a half dozen animal-related initiatives, and our movement prevailed in only one campaign—and that measure was later overturned by a subsequent ballot measure advanced by opponents of the reform.
From 1990 to present, 32 of the measures were initiatives or referenda pushed by animal protection advocates, three measures were initiatives by animal use industries, five were pro-hunting referenda placed on ballots by state legislators, and one was a pro-animal referendum placed on the ballot by state lawmakers.
Of the pro-animal initiatives (with HSUS instigating and leading most of the campaigns), animal advocates have won restrictions on cruel methods of trapping in five of seven states (with two measures in Arizona) where initiatives have been conducted, four of seven related to hound hunting and bear baiting, one of two measures to ban mourning dove hunting, one measure on horse slaughter, all three measures on cockfighting, two of three measures on airborne hunting of predators in Alaska, one of two measures to ban greyhound racing in Massachusetts, and all three measures on intensive confinement methods for pregnant sows, veal calves, and egg-laying hens. We failed in an effort to strengthen Arkansas's anti-cruelty law. One of the trapping measures, Question 1 in Massachusetts in 1996, also banned hounding and baiting and eliminated the requirement that members of the Fisheries and Wildlife Board had to be hunters.
Of the five pro-hunting referenda, animal advocates prevailed in four campaigns. Most of these pro-hunting referenda sought to make it practically impossible to use the initiative process — either by creating new passage or qualification standards; we vigorously campaigned against these measures and defeated three of the four. One pro-hunting referendum, which we contested and defeated, sought to repeal the ban on lion hunting in California.
We defeated two of the three initiatives from animal use industries—one to repeal the voter-approved ban on hounding and baiting in Oregon and one to expand gambling at greyhound and horse racing tracks in Arizona.
In sum, we have had great success in carefully selecting and winning initiative campaigns. Stung by our successes, animal use industries have organized a backlash, mainly by working with their allies in state legislatures to place counter-measures on ballots. We have been successful in defeating the meaningful counter-measures. In the rare circumstances when animal industries have placed measures on ballots, we have handily defeated their measures.
To view a more detailed summary of animal related ballot initiatives, download the PDF.