March 23, 2020

Utah: State Constitutional Amendment to the Right to Hunt, Fish and Harvest Wildlife Moves Out of Legislature and onto the Ballot

Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Inter-Mountain Western States Coordinator

On March 11, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus member Governor Gary Herbert signed House Joint Resolution 15 (HJR 15), a proposal to enshrine the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife in the Utah Constitution as a valued part of Utah’s outdoor heritage.

Sponsored by Representative Casey Snider and co-sponsored by Senator Allen Christensen, co-chairs of the Utah Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, HJR 15 will be on the general election ballot in November 2020. It will then be left up to the citizens of Utah to vote on whether or not HJR 15 will pass. If voters agree, the state constitution will include the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife.  

Though hunting, fishing and harvesting wildlife have long been an important component of the American heritage, only recently has the “right” to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife come into question. Anti-hunting organizations would lead the public to believe that hunting, fishing, and harvesting wildlife are only a privilege, subject to social pressures and prevailing public sentiments, rather than an inherent right. In doing so, anti-hunting organizations ignore the substantial financial contribution of sportsmen and women as the primary funding source for state-based conservation efforts through the American System of Conservation Funding, the most effective fish and wildlife conservation funding System to date. By amending the state Constitution and solidifying for its citizens the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife in perpetuity, HJR 15 would help to ensure the American System of Conservation remains intact by continuing to provide sportsmen and women with the opportunity for the consumptive, yet responsible, use of natural resources. 

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a letter to the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee in support of HJR 15. CSF commends HJR 15, its sponsors, and Governor Herbert in their combined effort to preserve for the public good, the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife by providing citizens with the opportunity to amend the state’s Constitution. If passed by the citizens of Utah, the amendment would take effect on January 1, 2021.

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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