January 29, 2015

Legislators Propose Constitutional Amendment to Guarantee Hunting Rights

The following release was provided by the Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus:

A bipartisan group of legislators on Thursday introduced a resolution that would update the state constitution to guarantee the right to hunt, fish, and trap in Kansas. 

Rep. Travis Couture-Lovelady and Rep. Adam Lusker, who are members of the Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, introduced House Concurrent Resolution No. 5008, which calls for a statewide constitutional amendment that guarantees the right to hunt and fish for the people of Kansas.  If approved by the legislature, the proposed constitutional amendment would be placed on the statewide ballot for approval by voters during the next election cycle.

“Recognizing the long history of sportsmen in the state of Kansas and understanding the danger of constant attacks on hunting, fishing, and trapping placed by anti-hunting organizations, it is important to protect our time honored tradition,” said Representative Travis Couture-Lovelady (R-Palco).  “By making hunting, fishing, and trapping a constitutionally protected right, Kansas will show that we unequivocally support what has been inherent for centuries.”

Although many states have only recently added the right to hunt and fish to their state’s constitution, the precedent for constitutional protection of our outdoor heritage was first enacted in 1777, when Vermont recognized the need to guarantee the right for their citizens from the very beginning of their statehood. If successful, Kansas would join 18 other states in affording their citizens with the same constitutional protection. 

“It is only right that Kansas, a state with a long heritage of outdoor pursuits, protect its citizen’s divine right to hunt, fish and trap by codifying it in our constitution,” said Representative Adam Lusker (D-Frontnac).  “This will ensure that our sons and daughters can enjoy the benefits of the great outdoors for generations to come.”

Specifically, the resolution ensures, “The people have the right to hunt, fish and trap, including by the use of traditional methods, subject to laws and regulations that promote wildlife conservation and management and that preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Public hunting and fishing shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. This section shall not be construed to modify any provision of law relating to trespass, property rights or water resources.””

The Kansas Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus recognizes the significant, positive economic impact of sportsmen and women who directly support conservation, as well as the right to continue a consumptive, yet responsible use of fish and wildlife resources.

Through the American System of Conservation funding – a “user-pays, public benefits” model – state-based conservation is primarily funded by hunters, recreational shooters and anglers through their purchases of taxable gear and hunting and fishing licenses. Unfortunately today, anti-hunting organizations often lead the public to believe that hunting, fishing and the ethical harvest of our wildlife resources through traditional means are only a privilege subject to social pressures and prevailing public sentiments rather than an inherent right. 

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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