August 23, 2019

SAM Proposing Legislation/Amendment to Stop HSUS Harassment

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TrahanBelow is a video from the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine with an explanation about five proposed bills the organization is supporting in which the goal is to force the collection of petition signatures to be done by only Maine residents and to close up, what SAM calls, other loopholes.

Another huge issue involves the proposal for a constitutional amendment to declare a right to hunt and fish. It seems there are more than one proposal and the three I have seen, as they now stand, I’m not too nuts about.

In this video, David Trahan, executive director for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, states that the SAM amendment proposal is LD 739. I couldn’t find an LD 739 dealing with the subject of a constitutional amendment. I am still looking and have friends helping.

Two proposals are near the same. LD 703 is written:

Section 26. Personal right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife; limitations. Every citizen has the personal right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife, subject only to statutes enacted by the Legislature and to rules adopted by the state agency designated to promote wildlife conservation and management and to preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Public hunting, fishing and harvesting wildlife are a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. This section may not be construed to modify any provision of law relating to trespass or property rights.

LD 753 is as follows:

Section 26. Right to hunt, fish and harvest game and fish. The right of the people of this State to hunt, fish and harvest game and fish, including by the use of traditional methods, may not be infringed, subject to reasonable laws enacted by the Legislature and reasonable rules adopted by the state agency designated for fish and wildlife management to promote wildlife conservation and management, to maintain natural resources in trust for public use and to preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Public hunting and fishing are a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. This section may not be construed to modify any provision of law relating to eminent domain, trespass or property rights.

LD 754 is actually an amendment to the existing constitution – Constitution, Art. IV, Pt. Third, §18, sub-§1. The amendment would add the following: “and not an amendment to the laws of the State governing hunting and fishing” the purpose of which would be to prohibit any efforts to change the laws governing hunting and fishing through citizen initiative/referendum process.

I have stated often that in order for a constitutional amendment to be effective in actually providing some semblance of a future guarantee of any right to hunt and fish, such an amendment must contain language that mandates that the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, or whoever and under what name wildlife management becomes in the future, manages Maine’s game species for the purpose of surplus harvest. None of the language in these three proposals gives us that.

History has shown that constitutional amendments, believed to be for the purpose of protecting the right of citizens to hunt and fish, without specific mandates, does nothing in protecting that right. What good is a right if it cannot be exercised? If and when any state fish and game department decides it will manage any and all wildlife for non consumptive use, then there is little purpose in protecting one’s right to hunt and fish.

In addition, the wording of such an amendment should be done in order that if and when the State of Maine decides it wants to merge departments or make changes in its department structure, which has been proposed in Maine in the past, which may also change its department name (department of natural resources as an example) that this amendment, which includes the mandate to manage game for surplus harvest, travels with those changes. Otherwise, restructuring, which might involve dissolving the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and creating of a new department, may present a legal issue and concern over whether such and amendment would still apply.

I hope that SAM and others aren’t so heavily focused on making sure that the Humane Society of the United States, and/or other environmental/animal rights groups, can’t force referendums that they miss an opportunity to do the job right and with complete protection.

I would also like to state that in LD 739, which is a process aimed at prohibiting the use of citizen initiatives in changing hunting and fishing laws, while an argument can be made about whether such an amendment would take away the public’s right to petition the state, it also sets a potentially dangerous precedent. Actions of this sort, have a way of coming around and biting us on the butt. I would not prefer this method of accomplishing the goals of SAM and other outdoor sportsmen.

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