By Jack Spaulding
On Election Day, Indiana voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state’s Constitution. According to Ballotpedia with 99.9 percent of precincts reported, the constitutional amendment snared 2,390,883 votes. That was 82 percent of Indiana voters in favor.
The amendment ensures the rights of the citizens of Indiana to hunt and fish. Section 39 to Article I of the Indiana Constitution is worded: “The right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife is a valued part of Indiana’s heritage; and shall be forever preserved for the public good.
“The people have a right, which includes the right to use traditional methods, to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife, subject only to the laws prescribed by the General Assembly and rules prescribed by virtue of the authority of the General Assembly to: promote wildlife conservation and management; and preserve the future of hunting and fishing.
“Hunting and fishing shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife.
“This section shall not be construed to limit the application of any provision of law relating to trespass or property rights.”
The following officials sponsored the amendment in the Indiana Legislature: Sen. Brent Steele (R-44), Sen. James Buck (R-21), Sen. Carlin Yoder (R-12), Sen. Michael Young (R-35), Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-14), Sen. Jim Tomes (R-49), Rep. Sean Eberhart (R-57) and Rep. Heath VanNatter (R-38).
Other officials supporting the amendment include Gov. Mike Pence.
Now the inalienable right is acknowledged and added to the constitution. It creates a barrier to the legislative onslaught being waged by groups founded on an anti-hunting, anti-fishing and animal rights philosophy, and helps guarantee state-wide management based on sound biological concepts.
The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, which supported the movement to constitutionalize a right to hunt and fish, contends: “Hunting and fishing are integral parts of the culture and economy of Indiana, as it is one of the top 10 deer-hunting states in the country and has more than 450 natural lakes and 21,000 miles of fishable streams, bringing in $923 million annually in revenue and supporting 14,058 jobs.”
Indiana now joins 23 other states having a constitutional amendment or statutory laws in place to protect the rights of their citizens to hunt and fish. Vermont incorporated the rights in its constitution in 1777, and California enacted legislation in 1910. Other states with constitutional rights to hunting and fishing include: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Jack Spaulding is a state outdoors writer and a consumer of RushShelby Energy living along the Flatrock River in Moscow. Readers with questions or comments can write to him in care of Electric Consumer, P.O. Box 24517, Indianapolis, IN 46224; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.