LEGISLATIVE UPDATE By State Representative C.B. Embry, Jr.
Protecting Our Right to Hunt and Fish on November Ballot:On November 6th voters will head to the polls to cast their ballot for President, Congress, state House and Senate, and some local offices. But Kentuckians will also have an opportunity to cast their vote on the following proposal, which I co-sponsored during the 2011 Legislative Session:
“Are you in favor of amending the Kentucky Constitution to state that the citizens of Kentucky have the personal right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife, subject to laws and regulations that promote conservation and preserve the future of hunting and fishing, and to state that public hunting and fishing shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife?”
The proposed amendment would add a new section to our state Constitution that specifically provides Kentuckians the personal right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife, using traditional methods, subject only to laws enacted by the legislature and to administrative regulations that promote wildlife conservation and management and that preserve the future of hunting and fishing.
This ballot proposal also designates public hunting and fishing as the preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. The proposed amendment doesn’t change any law relating to trespass, property rights, or the regulation of commercial activities. If the proposed amendment is approved by the voters on November 6, it will go into effect immediately.
The proposal amendment to our Constitution seeks to protect the right to hunt and fish that helped our forefathers survive as they sought to establish a nation of freedom.
Vermont is believed to be the only state to have included a constitutional protection for hunting and fishing in its original state constitution adopted in 1777. However, years of unregulated hunting and fishing led to wildlife protection and conservation laws. Kentucky established what was to become the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources in 1912, with the primary duty of protecting and conserving wildlife to ensure a permanent supply of wildlife resources for sport and recreation.
In more recent years, proponents of hunting and fishing have come to believe that a threat to hunting and fishing exists, primarily from groups proposing limits or outright bans on taking certain animals or fish, and that state laws do not adequately preserve the historical right to hunt and fish.
Since 1996, 12 states have joined Vermont in providing in their state constitutions the right to hunt and fish: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Arizona is the only state where voters rejected a similar constitutional amendment proposal. This year, voters in Kentucky will join Idaho, Nebraska, and Wyoming in voting on the question of whether a right to hunt and fish should be added to their state constitutions.
I welcome any comments or suggestions on this or any other issue. You can reach my Frankfort office via our toll-free legislative comment line at 1-800-372-7181. I can also be reached via e-mail at [email protected].