Should Hunting, Fishing Be Constitutional Rights?
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
The Tennessean reports today (Sept. 9) that supporters of the hunting and fishing measure say it will "prevent radical animal rights activists and an increasingly urban state legislature from one day shutting down the activities." But many others wonder whether that will ever be the case in Tennessee, which has not had political fights over hunting and fishing, as other states have.
Even one supporter of the proposal acknowledges it's not necessary now. But he defended it by saying that the process of getting a constitutional amendment on the ballot is a complex one that takes years to achieve. "If you wait until you need it," Mike Butler, head of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation, told The Tennessean , "the reality of being able to get it done would be pretty difficult."
The National Conference of State Legislatures says that 10 states guarantee the right to fish and hunt in their state constitutions. Vermont's constitutional language dates back to 1777, while the other nine states all have added the provisions since 1996, indicating a growing movement. Oklahoma became the last state to add such language in 2008.
Besides Tennessee, three other states — Arizona, Arkansas and South Carolina — also have measures on the ballot this year to constitutionally protect hunting and fishing, according to NCSL.