May 22, 2017

SAM’s Testimony on Right To Hunt Amendment, Makes Claims Not Entirely True

Recently I wrote about a proposed constitutional amendment in Maine that is being presented as an amendment to protect the “right” to hunt, trap and fish – LD 11. I also wrote that this proposal was one that I could support and I was wrong to have made the statement using the words that I did because I failed to succinctly express the full truth in my statement. Please let me explain.

Yesterday, I was reading David Trahan’s (Executive Director of the Sportman’s Alliance of Maine) testimony before the Legislative Committee in support of the proposed amendment.

To many, his words ring true, much because most of us have been taught certain things about our federal and state constitutions and the rights we have been granted under those constitution. Men don’t grant rights to anyone. They simply claim ownership of them and hand them back to us in some kind of limited form or fully deny us of such rights.

Trahan states that when this nation was founded, wildlife was “placed in the public trust” and as such we had the right to take it for sustenance. Therefore, Americans have always possessed the right to hunt, fish and trap. I will have to save for another day any debate on this so-called public trust and our inherent right to hunt, fish and trap. I will proceed from the perspective of most that they do have either a right or a privilege.

As Mr. Trahan also pointed out, man decided that in order to sustain game and other wildlife, they must construct laws to limit that activity. What happened to our inherent “right” to hunt, trap and fish when the limitations by law became enforced? Is anything really a “right” when it is controlled by man? We evidently believe so. When men, because they couldn’t maintain viable game populations through their own disciplines, called upon man-governments to do it for them, it began the process of destroying any semblance of a right to hunt. I ask once again, what happened to a so-called “right” to hunt wildlife “placed in the public trust” when at least some of that right was ceded over to government and restricted?

This is not that much different than the argument of sovereignty, in which most people do not understand sovereignty of an individual or a government agency. How are you a sovereign individual? Oh, you might say, “Nobody tells me what to do! I’m my own man!” But you are not. You might be a legend in your own mind, but you are not a sovereign individual. Once a man agrees to become part of a community, whether it is a small as a neighborhood or as large as a nation, they have agreed to relinquish that sovereignty and place it under the control of the government. Your act of relinquishment places decisions about your life into the hands of the controlling government agencies.

In Maine, at some point in time, the full right to hunt, trap and fish, was ceded to the State Government to control and make the decisions for us as to what, when and how we might harvest game. Trahan points this out in his testimony. In reality, the sportsmen have very little control over their perceived right to hunt. What has evolved since the creation of game and wildlife laws, is that the government agency formulated to oversee hunting, trapping and fishing, call the shots. Yup, proposals for new laws can be presented. Sometimes they get through a committee and most times not. You are heard before a committee but if you can’t get by the committee then what has become of your “right” to hunt, trap and fish. If you do get through committee you are at the mercy of the Legislature. Where then is your protected right?

Many believe that an amendment to the Constitution will guarantee, protect or create a “right” to hunt, trap and fish. They are wrong. I have written many times on this subject and stated that unless an amendment mandated or forced the government to do something, it is nothing more than words on a piece of paper.

The proposed LD 11 states, in reference to the right of the people of Maine to hunt, fish and trap, that this right: “may not be infringed.” (emboldening added) This is not a mandate. It does not force the Legislature, the Governor, Law Enforcement, or anybody else to stop any infringement of a person’s right to hunt, trap and fish. Go ask a lawyer – or at least an intelligent and honest one (yeah I know). Or go research it yourself. “May” is not a mandate – only a suggestion.

Further, the amendment says that this non infringement of the right to hunt, trap and fish is subject to “reasonable” laws enacted by the Legislature and “reasonable” rules adopted by the department in charge of management of game, fish and other wildlife. Is a “reasonable” law or rule an infringement? We’ve already established that the protection against infringement is non binding because the lawyers chose “may” instead of “must.”

So, who decides what “reasonable” means? I hope you are beginning to understand.

The amendment establishes that the department in reference is supposed to “promote wildlife conservation and management” and “maintain natural resources in trust for public use” (emboldening added) and this evidently will “preserve the future of hunting and fishing.” Nothing here is a mandate that forces anybody to do anything. What is wildlife conservation? As it is in operation today, wildlife conservation becomes a matter of which social entity has the most dollars and the loudest mouth to force their idealistic perceptions and conceptions of wildlife conservation.

The Department, according to this amendment will “maintain” natural resources. Maintain them how and to what levels of population that will guarantee, protect or create the “right” to hunt, trap and fish? This, of course, is left up to the Department, which is what takes places now. There is no mandate. There is no protection of any right.

The amendment further states that “public hunting and fishing are the preferred means…” (emboldening added) Where is the mandate here that will guarantee, protect or create a “right” to hunt, trap and fish? The Department might “prefer” to use hunting and fishing but what if they decide to import wolves to control populations of deer and moose? Where is the mandate? Where is the protection of any “right” to hunt, trap and fish? And would such a decision be “reasonable?”

The truth is, that while this is better language than previously proposed in other amendments, voters in Maine should not be misled to believe that this amendment, as written, will guarantee, protect or create for Maine citizens, the “right” to hunt, trap and fish.

And on the reverse of this, as I have already read in a few spreads of clap trap nonsense, such an amendment, as written will not destroy the process to petition the state. This should be obvious once you understand this proposal has nothing in it that is a mandate, forcing anybody to do anything.

When I said this amendment was something I could support, that statement was not accurate and I apologize for misleading people, if I did. First, I could not “support” such and amendment in the literal sense because I am not a legal resident of Maine and therefore could not vote for it if I wanted.

My thinking at the time was that while there still were no mandates in the proposal, perhaps the language was such that it might deter the onslaught of lawsuits and referendums that have been piled onto the Pine Tree State. It may, in fact, increase them. It is difficult to assess.

I will work harder to choose my words and the statements I make more carefully.

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A Case of the Pot Calling the Kettle Black

Void of sensible argument, let’s just say for the purposes of this discussion, that the corporate “citizens” of this corporation, the United States of America, live in a democracy. Might as well say it because most think we do and vehemently support it. A democracy sucks…especially when you are the sheep in a three-way discussion with two wolves deciding what’s for lunch. When you combine the ills of the so-called democratic process, with the ignorance of taking the high ground on all things democratic, scientific and wildlife management, spelled out for us in bold letters is HYPOCRISY.

To make my point, gander at the article written in the Kennebec Journal extolling the virtues of Maine’s Constitution and the democratic process in deciding who’s going to make the menu for lunch….er, well, kind of – until the promoter of the democratic process discovers she might be headlining the menu.

The article itself is garbage and so I will not waste my time with a step by step process refuting the endless claims of nonsense strewn through the blather of nonsensical words and hypocritical proclamations shouted from the position of the only one holding the high ground on all matters of what this person calls “rights,” science and the management of wildlife.

It would appear the letter writer assumes the position that rights are granted by governments and that those granted rights are how things should be, as in the rule of law, so long as they are the totalitarian rules of law she chooses to subscribe to that promote her ideology and choice of lifestyle.

The day we are born, our Creator gives us all our rights. It is only man in his sin that takes those rights away and/or doles them out as a means of controlling the population and presenting themselves as an “exceptional” government creating an “exceptional” nation. Sound familiar? Perhaps you don’t recognize it.

For each and every law that it enacted, one more aspect of our God-given rights is being chiseled away. We have reached a point in our uncivilized, greedy, nasty, hate-filled nation, where democracy, manipulated by money and power, is used to force the wills of only the most powerful and affluent among our society. There is a different name for this other than democracy…but, don’t go look.

In our own blind ignorance, created by the same powerful and affluent through essentially brainwashing (controlling all forms of education and media) once anyone assumes the high ground on any issue, of course the other side is wrong and need to be stopped, even to the point of wanting the oppositions rights removed. This IS but one of the nasty elements of democracy that you must like.

Aside from the blather of the letter writer, can anyone see the idiocy in the defense of what this person considers her choice in how democracy and the rule of law are applied? I see this most often but I wonder how many others do, especially those bent on forcing their idealism and totalitarian ways onto all others.

With but limited “rights” left, as most all “rights” are either taken away or have been limited to some degree, one can only employ the “democratic” process available in hopes of changing those laws.

In Maine there is but one more attempt at amending the constitution in order to establish what the promoters are calling a constitutional protection to hunt, fish and trap. Incidentally and most relevant to an honest discussion, since Maine became a state, there have been 172 approved amendments to its Constitution. Should it come as a shock to people that the process taken to adopt these amendments was the “democratic” process established within the original Constitution as defined in Article X, Section 4.? If you love this democracy so much, I hope you at least understand how it works.

How, then, is seeking approval from the Maine Legislature, to present to the voters of that state, a chance to consider, debate and vote on this or any other amendment, wrong as it applies to things a person doesn’t approve of?

The letter writer claims that a constitutional amendment to protect the right to hunt, fish and trap will destroy the rights of others and prohibit them from having any legal recourse in affairs concerning wildlife management. What nonsense. No constitutional amendment, unless so written, will supersede any and all other articles and amendments within a constitution.

Not that long ago, some in Maine were promoting a law that would remove a person’s right to petition the state in wildlife management issues of which I opposed. The proposed amendment, as written, would not do that.

It appears that in the letter writer’s enthusiasm and hatred toward all things hunting, trapping and fishing, she is skewing the lines between offering substantiated reasons to oppose an amendment for its content, and the actual democratic process established within the constitution.

I assure everyone that of the 172 amendments to Maine’s Constitution, not everyone liked and voted for them. However, as I have stated, democracy sucks, especially when you are on the short end of the stick.

The process is established and as much as some would like even to change that process, which can be done by implementation of the democratic and legal processes established within the Constitution, it is a process that shouldn’t be used to somehow demonize anyone’s or group of anyone’s right to petition the state and/or use the legal process to, in fact, let the voters decide. That is after all, what most American’s think is the best way to do things. It’s a classic Jeffersonian process.

The person who wrote this letter obviously does not understand the state’s legal processes, as well as the not so legal processes, that are presented as a right to assure a citizen the process to legally change the laws. It is not only ironic, buy of a double standard, that anyone would, while attempting to bless the Maine Constitution, out of the corner of their mouths, wish to limit those rights to anyone she does not agree with or that doesn’t agree with her.

The process is there, whether we like it or not. If you support this process and believe in it, then put your money where your mouth is and let the process work. In the meantime, if you oppose or support the proposed constitutional amendment then provide valid reasons for or against. Don’t pretend to understand the process while doing everything in your power to destroy the process.

Then again, all of this could be just a charade.

 

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Right to Hunt, Fish Proposed Constitutional Amendment Perhaps Best Language…So Far

The proposed Constitutional Amendment in Maine, LD 11, the right to hunt, fish and harvest game and fish, may provide the best language so far of any proposed amendments. Passage of this amendment would be good for everyone and for the management of fish and wildlife, although opponents cannot and will never see it that way.

The amendment, often only seen from one side as providing protection to kill animals, not only would help in protecting the long-held heritage of hunting, trapping and fishing in Maine, but will help to insure that hunting, trapping and fishing are used as tools to manage and perpetuate healthy game and other wildlife populations.

The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation is a proven method of conserving and perpetuating healthy numbers of wild animal species. That model calls for the employment of hunting, trapping and fishing as a means of controlling and perpetuating the species but also provides millions of dollars in revenue needed to continue the responsible management of wild animals.

While this amendment may not be the absolute best, it is one that I can at least support. I hope readers will as well.

Below is Section 26 of the proposed amendment. That is followed by the complete proposal as is currently written.

Section 26. Right to hunt, fish and harvest game and fish. The right of the 6 people of this State to hunt, fish and harvest game and fish, including by the use of 7 traditional methods, may not be infringed, subject to reasonable laws enacted by the 8 Legislature and reasonable rules adopted by the state agency designated for fish and 9 wildlife management to promote wildlife conservation and management, to maintain 10 natural resources in trust for public use and to preserve the future of hunting and fishing. 11 Public hunting and fishing are a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. 12 This section may not be construed to modify any provision of law relating to eminent 13 domain, trespass or property rights.

Maine 128 - HP 12 item 1
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Update on Progress of Proposed Montana Legislation on Guns and Right to Hunt

Press Release from the Montana Shooting Sports Association:
Dear MSSA Friends,
Well, not exactly.  I’m home now.
Tuesday morning at 8 AM I attended a public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee to support MSSA’s School Safety Act, HB 385, to allow for armed teachers.  Garrett Bacon of Helena also came to support the bill (thanks Garrett), but he was the only other proponent.  There were about 30 Moms Demand Action there.  Each side was allowed 20 minutes.  One of the MDA bill opponents took up over 10 minutes of that time with unpersuasive testimony.  Others of the 30 were frustrated when their side ran out of time and they were only allowed to state their name for the record.  I must admit that it is frustrating when some clueless dolt burns most or all of your side’s time with wasted talk, but I admit to not being so disturbed when it happened to the other side.  The committee has not yet taken action on the bill, but I think it likely the Committee will approve the bill.  It’s not too late to send messages to Committee members asking them to support HB 385.  Do it.
Tuesday afternoon, the Senate passed Permitless Carry (HB 262) and Post Office Carry (HB 246) on Second Reading.  Both of those were passed by the Senate today on Third Reading.  Since neither was amended by the Senate, both will now go to the Governor.  In a different email to you (maybe tomorrow) I’ll offer information and suggestions for messages to the Governor about these two bills.  Neither one passed with a veto-proof majority, which would be 34 votes in the Senate and 67 in the House.
Later on Tuesday afternoon I attended a public hearing before the House Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Committee to support HB 151, a bill to prevent FWP from using for other purposes the money the Legislature appropriates for the Shooting Range Development Program.  There were several opponents, including FWP and their reliable sidekick the National Wildlife Federation.  I told how FWP had diverted the SRDP funding from two previous legislative sessions.  I think the Committee was sympathetic because legislators don’t like executive branch agencies and personnel ignoring legislative intent.  Please contact the House FWP Committee and ask that committee members support HB 151.
BTW, HB 151 and HB 262 (Permitless Carry) were MSSA bills (bills for which we overtly asked for introduction) last session.  They were not on the final MSSA legislative agenda this session, but we couldn’t hardly not support them when sponsors reintroduced them this session since they were introduced last session at MSSA’s request.
This morning at 9 AM I attended a public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of SB 99 and SJR 11.  Garrett Bacon was there again in support (thanks again Garrett), but nobody else showed up to support these two MSSA bills.
Senate Joint Resolution 11 is the measure to provide the first authoritative definition for the critical phrase in the Montana Constitution “shall not be called in question.”  Surprisingly, there were no opponents.  I guess the Moms Demand Action wore themselves out on Tuesday.
SB 99 is the bill to prohibit state and local public employees (cops) from enforcing any new federal restrictions on firearms or magazines.  SB 99 was opposed by county attorneys and the Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, although the opposition was not as spirited as it has sometimes been in the past.
NEW BILL.  A bill has been introduced for a referendum to upgrade the right to hunt, fish, and trap in the Montana Constitution, SB 236, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Fielder.  It will have a public hearing tomorrow (2/16) before the Senate Fish and Game Committee.  I emailed a letter of support for SB 236 from MSSA.  Please send messages to the Committee in support of SB 236.
Every change to the Montana Constitution must be voted on by the people.  To put SB 236 on the ballot requires 100 votes combined out of the 150 possible votes in the Senate and House.  That’s a pretty heavy lift, so your ongoing support for SB 236 will be needed.
That’s enough for now.
Best wishes,
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Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine Pushing Three Bills This Session

I have heard that the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM) is pushing for support of three bills being presented before the Maine Legislature, that are described as in support and protection of hunting, fishing and trapping, changing the way signatures are gathered for public referendum items, and banning public referendum on wildlife issues. Let me address them one at a time.

First, there appears to be another attempt to somehow, through the Legislature, “protect the right to hunt.” I have not seen the language, which, to me, is of utmost importance. It is mostly a waste of time to support any law or constitutional amendment that does not go far enough to protect a right to hunt, fish and trap. What most don’t see is that what has been mostly presented so far, and this is true in several states that have already passed some kind of law to protect hunting, fishing and trapping, is that there is a difference between protecting a right for the opportunity to hunt, fish and trap, and the actual right to hunt, fish and trap. “Opportunities,” as the word is almost always wiggled into any attempt at fake protection of hunting, fishing and trapping, can take on many disguises, some of which one has to use their imagination to see any protection at all.

As things stand currently in Maine, most sportsmen are presented with “opportunities” to hunt, fish and trap. Would outdoor sportsmen be just as happy, years down the road, if those “opportunities” shrank to little or no chance to hunt, fish or trap? Any law passed worded with “provide opportunities” would only require the absolute minimum in order to fulfill the mandate. Thought must be given this matter.

What I have been witness to in other states that include only “opportunities” is that they can tell someone at what percentage the voters passed or rejected the law. Other than that, it really has no teeth, but might possibly discourage some under-funded environmentalist group from suing…but don’t hold your breath.

On the other hand, any law or constitutional amendment MUST provide a mandate, that whoever is in control of game management, must manage all game species “for surplus harvest.” I’m not stupid and I understand this is language fish and game departments, as well as slimy politicians, don’t want to see in any law or amendment. They hate placing mandates on themselves. It cramps their style. However, the only way that the actual act of hunting, trapping and fishing can be guaranteed is by including a mandate that the department must manage the game species for surplus harvest, otherwise what’s the point of it all? That would certainly take care of protecting opportunities.

I would fully support an amendment that contains the appropriate language. I wouldn’t oppose a useless amendment for protecting “opportunities,” but I would spend any time supporting it.

A second issue involves some kind of law that would require a different structure for gathering signatures in order to place a proposal on the ballot as a public referendum. Once again, I have not seen the language, but would support a change that would more equitably provide signatures that most closely represents the voting public. Maine has a wide disparaging population that goes hand in hand with political idealism. It appears that it becomes a bit too easy for someone to focus signature gathering on the most densely populated areas of Southern Maine, where residents there more closely resemble citizens of Massachusetts than the northern two-thirds of the Pine Tree State. I don’t think such a change would actually change anything, except that it might discourage fence sitters with little or no money from exercising their right to petition the government. This is something to consider.

Voters should think sufficiently on this issue before tossing support or opposition. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. In other words, for those seeking signatures that would more easily be targeted in northern and rural Maine, an equal number, or a more representative number of signatures, must be gathered from both regions – the door swings both ways.

And speaking of a goose and a gander, this brings me to the third item up for discussion. For the third time I remind readers I have not seen the exact language of the proposed legislation. It is my understanding that a proposal is being promoted by SAM that would prohibit public referendum items that involve “wildlife issues.”

Who is going to decide what is a “wildlife issue” to be accepted or rejected? What could possibly go wrong?

It appears to me that those in support of such a prohibition are making the assumption that they will always be in agreement with how the state, and in particular the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), manages game and wildlife. Do you have the confidence that the MDIFW will always be doing what you consider the right thing? What will happen then, if MDIFW decides that it will shift all its funds and employees to protecting piping plovers, allowing the deer herd to go to hell in a hand-basket? You try and try and try to get them to better balance their work. Even SAM has mounted a campaign to deal with issues that are important to its members, but there is no changing their minds. What then? What’s left? Presently, you could gather signatures and mount a referendum campaign for the upcoming ballot to force the changes you seek. With a ban on “wildlife issues” on referendums, this right to petition the state is gone.

It always amazes me to witness, so-called, supporters of rights, who turn around and use their right to take away a right they claim they support.

It sucks that we live in a democracy, where two wolves and a sheep can decide what’s for lunch, but it is the system that we have and our rights need to be protected in order that we can have some kind of recourse when government gets too big and out of control. I have zero faith that Maine’s government, or any other government, gives three pieces of camel dung about me and what I think is important. As I witness the changes taking place within fish and game departments, more closely resembling environmental activism, this right to petition the state on wildlife issues must remain in place.

I would NOT support a ban on referendums that involve “wildlife issues” regardless of what the definition is of “wildlife issues.”

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Ban on Trapping and Why Wording For a Right to Hunt Amendment is Important

The following email came from Gary Marbut of the Montana Shooting Sports Association:

Dear MSSA Friends,

The media tells us that anti activists have gathered enough signatures to put I-177 on the November ballot, to ban trapping on public lands.

Isn’t this proposed law unconstitutional under the right to hunt, fish and trap that MSSA got into the Montana Constitution?

Yes.  See my comment for the record last September to MT DoJ about I-177 at:
http://www.progunleaders.org/Trapping/

However, the rules are that an initiative cannot be challenged for constitutionality until and unless it is approved by the voters and becomes law.  Until that occurs, you may spread the word that, among other serious problems, I-177 is a waste of effort and taxpayer resources because IF Montana courts follow the law I-177 will eventually be stricken as in violation of the Montana Constitution.
Best wishes,
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Constitutional Amendment to Preserve Right to Hunt Fish? A Cold Day in Hell

Even IF, and it’s a bit IF, the Maine Legislature passed any kind of constitutional amendment that some think would protect the right of Maine residents to hunt and fish, it won’t do any such thing without the needed nitty, gritty wording.

What little effort has gone into creating a proposal to protect that outdoor heritage, not only has any proposed language been mostly useless, there has been little support, even from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW). MDIFW wouldn’t support such an amendment, or at least one that is worded in a way that mandates the department of manage game for surplus harvest. God forbid they should do such a thing…a thing that might anger the environmentalists, of which most employees of MDIFW appear to be environmentalists, more interested in piping plovers than managing deer and moose for surplus harvest to continue providing a resource for hungry hunters.

In George Smith’s recent article he states: “Dave Trahan, Executive Director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, asked the committee to consider a new Constitutional amendment to protect hunting. He said he’s researching amendments in other states, including the language used in those amendments.”

Why is it that any proposals for a constitutional amendment have to be based on what other states, who have those amendments, used for words? Will this “research” include communicating with those who proposed the amendments, i.e. what they wanted and what they settled for? And will this “research” include talking with sportsmen to find out if the amendment has worked and what would be better if changed? Just because somebody else used it doesn’t mean it is what is best for Maine.

I know of a few states that “settled” for some watered down version that amounted to nothing. Its only purpose then became a bit of leverage where outdoor sportsmen could state that voters approved an amendment to protect hunting and fishing by XXXX percentage of voters. In the meantime, state fish and game departments are struggling to provide “opportunity” and failing at managing game herds.

I’ve explained before that a constitutional amendment is useless if it does not have wording that requires the managing department to grow game populations for surplus harvest. To simply state that the department will provide hunting and fishing opportunity is meaningless. An “opportunity” might be as little as 500,000 hunters vying for 5 tags to hunt deer. What an “opportunity!”

It is puzzling, that we now live in a society where it seems more profitable to that society to protect immoral and unproductive lifestyles rather than promote wholesome ways of living carried down through generations. We are often asked if we think this country is headed in the right direction. Of course it isn’t. When there lacks the support to protect a valuable heritage, what then does our future look like?

Maine people must understand that if a serious attempt at passing an amendment, with any teeth at all, fails as miserably as in the past, the resounding message then becomes, Maine has no more interest in outdoor heritage. Hunting, fishing and trapping will end and Maine will continue to pour its resources into gay marriage, animal rights, welfare, illegal immigration, etc. etc. etc.

Maine needs to get it right.

MaineLegislator

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Wisconsin’s ‘Right to Hunt’ Law Could Mean Jail for Animal Activists 

The proposed bill, however, would criminalize photographing or videotaping hunters, as well as what it calls “impeding a person who is engaged in an activity associated with lawful hunting.” It would also cover any “acts that are preparatory to lawful hunting, fishing, or trapping.”

Source: Wisconsin’s ‘Right to Hunt’ Law Could Mean Jail for Animal Activists – Yahoo News

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Outdoors in Maine: Amendment may not be ‘silver bullet,’ but it would be well worth it

Earlier this month, two legislative bills that would, in all likelihood, represent a preemptive strike against the HSUS anti-hunting initiatives in Maine were heard by the Joint Legislative Committee on Fisheries and Wildlife. Basically, the two bills, LD 703 and LD 753, would amend the state constitution so as to protect the people’s right to hunt and fish and manage wildlife.

From all reports, these bills are going to get an inordinate amount of legislative scrutiny.

Source: Outdoors in Maine: Amendment may not be ‘silver bullet,’ but it would be well worth it

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Testimony Given in Right to Hunt Constitutional Amendment

Senator Paul Davis, Representative Michael Shaw, distinguished members of the committee on Inland Fisheries and wildlife.

Good afternoon and thank you for the opportunity to speak here today. My name is Brett Patten and I am here to testify in support of LD753, a proposal that would amend Maine’s Constitution to protect an individual’s right to hunt, and fish. And, in concept, LD703 a proposal that would amend the constitution of Maine to protect the people’s right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife.

That being said, I feel here in Maine we pride ourselves on having strong beliefs as well as our own thoughts and ideas. That is why I’m asking you, when these bills go to work session that you make them our own. Make this “Maine’s Constitutional Amendment”, not Idaho’s, not Kentucky’s or any other state in the union, but Maine’s. There is a belief that similar Constitutional Amendments in other states, that are already in place, will work here in Maine, maybe they will, I don’t know. I do know this, in Maine we tend to do things our way, and not the way of others. This may be our best opportunity to do this so I would ask you to make this the best it can be.

Notwithstanding the fact that I am in favor of these bills, I am proposing the following changes in section 26 of the amendment and to the question that would appear on the ballot.
(Changes are in bold type)

Section 26. Right to hunt, fish, trap and harvest game and fish.
The right of the people of this state to hunt, fish, trap 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, fishing and trapping managing fish and game for surplus harvest. Public hunting, fishing and trapping are preferred means of managing, controlling and perpetuating fish and wildlife. This section may not be construed to modify any provision of law relating to eminent domain, trespass or property rights.

The question on the ballot would read like this:
“Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to provide that the right of the people of this state to hunt, fish, trap and harvest game and fish may not be infringed, subject to reasonable laws and rules, and to provide that public hunting, fishing and trapping are a preferred means of managing, controlling and perpetuating wildlife”?

I have hunted and fished in Maine most of my life and in recent years I’ve found a real love in trapping. I’m very proud to say I’m a registered Maine guide, a member of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, the Maine Professional Guide’s Association and the Maine Trapper’s Association. Last year’s fight against the bear referendum showed me a lot about who we are as Mainer’s. Although I was sickened at the amount of money and resources wasted in last years fight, I’m very grateful that I got to be a part of, and see firsthand, the solidarity and determination it took to defeat the Humane Society of the United States, for the second time in 10 years. For those of you that may not know, the Maine trapper’s Association donated over $117,000.00 towards last years cause along with soliciting thousands more from other fraternal organization’s. Trapping is a valuable part of Maine’s wildlife conservation and has been for hundreds of years. The word “trap” and the word “trapping” deserve to be in this amendment.

Opponents of bills like these say, “A State’s Constitution should guarantee fundamental democratic rights, not provide protection for recreational pastimes.” I say, “Hunting, fishing, and trapping are not recreational pastimes, but they are rights, rights of the people of this great state that should be protected forever!”

I would ask you to please vote “ought to pass” with the few changes I have presented.

I would be happy to answer any questions that the committee may have.

Thank you all for your time and God bless.

Respectfully submitted,
Brett Patten

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