Alabama citizens this fall will consider a “Sportsperson’s Bill of Rights” amendment to the state constitution that would further protect the right of citizens to hunt and fish, becoming only the latest state to pass such a proposal.
The proposed Alabama hunting and fishing amendment would affirm that both of the popular activities are to be considered the state’s preferred method of wildlife management and conservation efforts.
“The people have the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife subject to reasonable regulations that promote conservation and management of fish and wildlife and preserve the future of the sports,” it reads.
The hunting and fishing bill of rights movement is not limited to Alabama. The Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development (SRED) penned a Sportsman’s Bill of Rights to urge lawmakers in all states and the federal level to address the concerns of hunters, anglers and wildlife managers.
The group is a coalition of more than 500 partner organizations, businesses and citizens who are focused on conserving habitats around the country so future generations can also hunt and fish on the lands. The organization is led by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Trout Unlimited and the National Wildlife Federations.
Currently a total of 17 states have a guaranteed right to hunt and fish in their respective constitutions. Sixteen of those states had the measures approved by voters. Vermont approved such legislation in 1777. States which have added hunting and fishing protections into their constitutions in more recent years are: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Both Rhode Island and California have “right to fish” laws but nothing pertaining to shooting sports.
The SRED Sportsman’s Bill of Rights says:
- Hunters and anglers shall have a voice in decisions affecting energy development on public lands.
- Public lands shall be managed for many uses, including hunting and fishing.
- Hunters and anglers shall not be forced to pay for the costs associated with poorly planned energy development on public lands.
- State and federal fish and wildlife agencies shall have adequate funding to ensure the long-term health of fish, wildlife and water resources on public lands.
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A Texas law was passed last year to prevent the harassment of hunters and is known as the Sportsman’s Rights Act. Under the law, an individual is not permitted to “intentionally interfere” with another person legally engaged in the catching of wildlife or hunting. The law also prohibits the harassing or disturbing of wildlife in order to thwart a hunter.
“No person may enter or remain on public land or enter or remain on private land without the landowner’s permission if the person intends to disrupt another person lawfully engaged in the process of hunting,” the Texas law says. “The ‘process of hunting or catching’ means any act directed at the lawful hunting or catching of wildlife, including camping or other acts preparatory to hunting or catching wildlife on land or water.”
The Alaskan Constitution says, “Wherever occurring in their natural state, fish, wildlife, and waters are reserved to the people for common use.” While many feel the intent is to protect hunting and fishing, among other common outdoor activities, the constitutional text has not yet been tested in court in hunting or fishing infringement cases.
Do you think hunting and fishing should be specifically protected in state constitutions? Let us know in the comments below.