Voters in Alabama ratified a constitutional amendment to strengthen hunting and fishing rights. The so-called “Sportsperson’s Bill of Rights” is a pre-emptive move to protect the rights of those who want to hunt and fish from those seeking to prohibit those activities. Approximately 80 percent of Alabamans voted in favor.
"Hunting and fishing are huge industries in the state and country. A lot of people don't understand or realize that excise taxes (on hunting and fishing equipment) fund the conservation department. It's a big deal. It's a positive economic impact for the state and we're trying to enshrine the right to hunt and fish for the future," Rep. Mark Tuggle, R-Alexander City told the Alabama TV show “Capital Journal.”
For the second time in ten years Maine rejected an attempt to do away with or severely limit bear hunting. This time the issue had to do with banning the use of bait, traps and dogs in bear hunting. According to the Portland Press Herald, voters turned back the effort despite the infusion of approximately $2 million in funding from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a well-known anti-hunting organization, which supported the ban.
“We faced an incredible amount of adversity in this campaign,” James Cote, Question 1 campaign manager, told the Herald. “They threw everything at us they can. I am proud to say that we prevailed.”
HSUS also cast what turned out to be a one-sided shadow in Michigan where voters approved two moot referendums seeking to overturn two laws that will remain on the books regardless of the vote. One allows wolf hunting while the other gives the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) the authority to name game species. The vote was moot because a citizen-initiated law already passed last August will take effect in March and restore the authority of the NRC to name game species using sound science – including wolves.
“The results were about what we expected,” said Drew YoungeDyke, public relations manager for Michigan United Conservation Clubs. “HSUS spent millions on misleading political ads and flyers to take away hunting rights, but the citizen initiative we passed in August protects those rights. I’m sure HSUS’s donors will be glad to know they spent $1.5 million on what’s essentially a public relations poll, money that could have gone to local animal shelters.”
HSUS is expected to file a lawsuit.
Voters in Mississippi overwhelmingly saw to it that their state became the 18th to adopt a constitutional right to hunt and fish. About 87 percent of voters approved the measure. Once the amendment is officially adopted, hunting and fishing will become a right instead of a mere privilege for Mississippians.
The states with constitutional protections for fishing and hunting are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.