By John Culclasure, Central Appalachian States Manager
On November 6, voters in North Carolina will have the opportunity to constitutionally protect the Right to Hunt, Fish and Harvest Wildlife (RTHF).
If this amendment (ballot measure 1) is approved by voters, North Carolina’s hunting and fishing traditions would be protected in perpetuity. Protecting these pastimes is not only important for ensuring that North Carolina’s outdoor heritage is safeguarded for future generations, it would also support the conservation funding system that has contributed over $1.23 billion to the state through the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses and sporting-related equipment through the “user-pays, public-benefits” structure known as the American System of Conservation Funding.
Voters will see the following language at the ballot, “Constitutional amendment protecting the right of the people to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife.” The full text of the amendment to the constitution would be: “Sec. 38. Right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife. The right of the people to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife is a valued part of the State’s heritage and shall be forever preserved for the public good. The people have a right, including the right to use traditional methods, to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife, subject only to laws enacted by the General Assembly and rules adopted pursuant to authority granted by the General Assembly to (i) promote wildlife conservation and management and (ii) preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Public hunting and fishing shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. Nothing herein shall be construed to modify any provision of law relating to trespass, property rights, or eminent domain.”
Vermont was the first state to enshrine protections for hunting and fishing in their constitution in 1777. Currently 21 states, including every state bordering North Carolina, have a RTHF constitutional amendment. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and wide a range of sportsmen’s conservation organizations support the RTHF constitutional amendment in North Carolina.
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?