Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Voters Speak Loudly, Approve Constitutional Right to Hunt

Call it a mandate! Voters in Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Wyoming overwhelmingly approved initiatives to make hunting a constitutional right. They join 13 other states that previously amended their constitutions to protect hunting and fishing.

In Idaho, with 83 percent of the vote counted early Wednesday, the measure had approval from 74 percent of voters. In Kentucky, 83 percent of voters expressed approval. It was 3-to-1 in favor in Nebraska while Wyoming voters delivered a similarly high margin of victory. Idaho, Nebraska and Wyoming constitutions also now protect trapping too.

Senator Lee Heider drafted the Idaho amendment. He says it will protect the hunting, fishing and trapping heritage from future attempts to erode Idaho’s wildlife management laws and against steady pressure from animal rights groups.

Scott Smathers heads up the Nebraska Sportsmen's Foundation. He told Omaha.com he was relieved and excited that Nebraskans recognized the importance of the amendment.

“I voted ‘yes’ to hunting because I believe there are wildlife hazards. I’ve almost hit several deer just in the past week and I know that some people make part of their livelihood that way,” 22-year-old Rachel Yanko, a full-time student and registered Democrat in Kentucky, told the Courier-Journal.

“Wildlife can be managed if they let the people manage it who know how,” said Clayton Lewis, a 75-year-old retiree in Kentucky.

The 13 states that already have a right to hunt amendment in their constitutions are Alabama (1996), Arkansas (2010), Georgia (2006), Louisiana (2004), Minnesota (1998), Montana (2004), North Dakota (2000), Oklahoma (2008), South Carolina (2010), Tennessee (2010), Vermont (1777), Virginia (2000), and Wisconsin (2003). Alaska’s constitution already contains this language: “Wherever occurring in their natural state, fish, wildlife, and waters are reserved to the people for common use.”

Mississippi referred a similar amendment to the 2014 ballot.

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