By John Culclasure, Central Appalachian States Manager
On June 25, legislation to constitutionally protect the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife in North Carolina passed both legislative chambers. The amendment will be presented to voters for ratification in the November 2018 elections.
Before the House passed Senate Bill 677 92-23, it adopted an amendment from North Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) Member Representative David Lewis that strengthened the legislation and rejected other amendments that would have weakened the bill. Hours later, the Senate concurred 41-6 with the amended bill.
Sponsored by Caucus Members Senators Danny Earl Britt, Tom McInnis, and Norman Sanderson, SB 677 passed both chambers by the required three-fifths vote for a constitutional amendment. The bill is not subject to the Governor’s consideration.
On June 20, representatives from the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, National Rifle Association, and Delta Waterfowl testified in favor of the legislation before the Senate Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources Committee. Right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife constitutional amendments are critical to protect our country’s hunting, fishing, and trapping traditions in the face of increasing threats to outdoor sporting traditions. Should voters in North Carolina voters ratify the amendment this fall, North Carolina will join 21 other states that have constitutionally protected the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife.
Supporting over 35,000 jobs in the state and contributing more than $2.3 billion to the state’s economy, North Carolina’s hunters, anglers, and trappers are important economic drivers. In 2017 alone, sportsmen and women also contributed over $56 million to conservation funding in North Carolina through the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses and sporting-related equipment.
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?