June 24, 2017

Maine Should Try Some Originality in Their Quest for Constitutional Amendment

I read an article today from Texas. The link was sent to me by a reader. The article was an announcement of sorts of the Texas Legislature’s proposal for a constitutional amendment for the “right” to hunt, fish and trap. The proposal is HJR 61.

Here are the magic words:

“Sec.A34.AA(a) The people have the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife, including by the use of traditional methods, subject to laws or regulations to conserve and manage wildlife and preserve the future of hunting and fishing. (b)AAHunting and fishing are preferred methods of managing and controlling wildlife. (c)AAThis section does not affect any provision of law relating to trespass, property rights, or eminent domain.”

Here is what one amendment proposal from Maine says: (LD 753)

“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.”

Recently Idaho passed a constitutional amendment for the “right” to hunt, trap and fish:

“SECTION 23. THE RIGHTS TO HUNT, FISH AND TRAP. The rights to hunt, fish and trap, including by the use of traditional methods, are a valued part of the heritage of the State of Idaho and shall forever be preserved for the people and managed through the laws, rules and proclamations that preserve the future of hunting, fishing and trapping. Public hunting, fishing and trapping of wildlife shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. The rights set forth herein do not create a right to trespass on private property, shall not affect rights to divert, appropriate and use water, or establish any minimum amount of water in any water body, and shall not lead to a diminution of other private rights.”

Do you see what has happened? This wording is nearly verbatim to words adopted by other state fish and game departments. I am contending that these words are being deliberately pushed through any state seeking an amendment, including Maine.

I just don’t know how I can get people to realize what this wording does…..effectively nothing. Oh yeah, it MIGHT help to stop a couple of silly lawsuits here and there but will do nothing to protect a right and provide a means in which we can exercise that right. Carefully consider the language of each of these bill proposals and the Idaho amendment passed. Then picture a group of lawyers dissecting that language. Then I ask again, will this language guarantee anyone’s right to hunt, trap and fish? It’s no different than the Supreme Court of the United States declaring in Heller v. District of Columbia and NRA v. Chicago, that the Second Amendment is an individual right to keep and bear arms, and yet, what good is that right if you are not allowed to buy a gun in state or bring one in from someplace else or to be able to go outside and use it. Our “right” might be protected, but the ability to exercise it has been taken away.

Maine sportsmen and others, at least some, recognize that fish and game departments, with each passing year, are becoming nothing more than mouthpieces and useful idiots of the environmentalists. With this infiltration of environmentalism into every facet of our being, we are only a short time away from fish and game (i.e. “natural resources”) departments deciding to manage wildlife for non consumptive use. It’s happening! Open your eyes! And then where is the “right” to hunt, fish and trap? Yep! The right still exists but those “natural resource” managers have decided that “nature” can do a better job of managing and controlling ALL wildlife and that “non consumptive” use of a “public resource” will preserve that resource. What we will see is a gradual decrease in licenses or tags available and loss of opportunities.

But nobody gets it. I get emails from a few telling me I’m wrong. Telling me that those other states that have amendments, it’s working real good. Maybe, maybe not! But I can guarantee you, it hasn’t stopped the environmentalists from taking over fish and wildlife management.

I realize that few see it the way that I do and think me wrong, and I might be. But, it is my opinion that without specific wording that mandates the fish and wildlife department to manage wildlife for surplus harvest, I’m afraid the proposed wording will only prove to protect a right without a guarantee that that right can be exercised.

It is unfortunate that it appears that these state proposals for constitutional amendments resembles what we see in news media everyday – one news source (AP, Reuters) prints a story and the whole world accepts it and parrots it. Maine should think these proposals through better and come up with some original text that will do a better job if they really want to keep hunting, fishing and trapping into the future.

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  • Scott Gunther

    You are right. What a politician considers “reasonable” could be completely draconian in its oppressive regulation.