In addition to an important presidential election on Nov. 8 that, among other things, will predicate the makeup and direction the country’s entire federal judiciary for decades, voters in two states approved constitutional protection of something that’s equally important to American sportsmen and women: the right to hunt, fish and trap.
Voters in Indiana and Kansas weighed in on constitutional amendments to protect the right of citizens to hunt, fish and trap subject to state laws and regulations. In the Hoosier State, Public Question 1 passed with 79 percent voter support, while Kansas Constitution Amendment 1 was approved by 81 percent of the electorate.
Language for the Right to Hunt and Fish state constitutional amendment was approved by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (and vice-president elect) in March and will amend the Indiana Constitution to establish an individual right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife in the Hoosier State and ensure that wildlife and conservation management decisions will continue to be based on sound science, not the misguided agendas of anti-hunting and anti-fishing extremists.
In Kansas, House Concurrent Resolution 5008 passed the Senate without opposition after breezing through the House by a vote of 117 to 7. The amendment to the Kansas Constitution that would affirm the right of the public to hunt, fish, and trap as such:
“The people have the right to hunt, fish and trap, including by the use of traditional methods, subject to laws and regulations that promote wildlife conservation and management and that preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Public hunting and fishing shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. This section shall not be construed to modify any provision of law relating to trespass, property rights or water resources.”
Of the 19 states already guaranteeing the right to hunt and fish in their constitutions, 18 were approved by the voters. While Vermont’s language dates back to 1777, the rest of these constitutional provisions — in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming — have passed since 1996.
Advocates also consider Alaska’s constitutional language—“Wherever occurring in their natural state, fish, wildlife and waters are reserved to the people for common use”— as meeting the test because of its strong case law history.