May 5, 2015

The Right to Hunt and Fish

According to the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL), sportsmen in many states feel their ability to hunt and fish is in danger because of “increasing urbanization, decreased habitat, declining numbers of sportsmen, and more restrictions on hunting.” Development, deforestation, and competition from other recreational groups such as hikers and all-terrain vehicles also limit the space sportsmen have to hunt and fish. Consequently, sportsmen are “turning to the state constitutions to ensure that their pastime will continue in perpetuity.”

According to NCSL, the following 18 U.S. states guarantee a person’s right to hunt and fish in their constitutions: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Also, residents of California and Rhode Island enjoy a constitutional right to fish, but not to hunt.

In 2015, NCSL is tracking bills in the following nine states that would grant a state constitutional right to hunt and fish: Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Texas. But opponents of these constitutional amendments believe constitutions should not protect recreational pastimes.