Utah makes hunting and fishing a Constitutional right

Hunting and fishing are now protected Constitutional rights in Utah.

During Election Day, voters approved Amendment E to the state constitution. The amendment declares hunting and fishing are the preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife in Utah. According to Fox News, the amendment passed with 74 percent of the vote.

The amendment was placed on the ballot by Utah State Rep. Casey Snider, a Republican from Paradise, Utah. He told KSL.com the rights of hunters and fishers need to be protected.

“The ability to procure for your family food or fiber through hunting and fishing is an essential part of us,” he told the news station. “And making sure that if those activities are limited or curtailed, there is a higher threshold.”

Snider said in time those participating in hunting and fishing might become a smaller minority than they already are and may need extra protections in the future. He said it could be a possibility that hunting and fishing could be “eliminated from the public sphere and from conservation generally and at large.”

Utah became the 22nd state to pass an amendment protecting the right to hunt and fish. According to Ballotpedia, only Vermont had a right to hunt and fish in its Constitution between 1776 and the mid-1990s.

In 1996, Alabama voters began the trend of adding the protection to state constitutions. The other states who have such protections, in order of approval, are Minnesota, North Dakota, Virginia, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Montana, Georgia, Oklahoma, Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, Wyoming, Mississippi, Texas, Indiana, Kansas, and North Carolina.

California and Rhode Island have amendments guaranteeing the right to fish but not to hunt.

Snider told KSL he believes hunting and fishing are important for conservation efforts.

“As hunting and angling slides out, you lose that ethic that comes with participating in these sports, but also the conservation dollars,” he told the news station. “Hunters and anglers pay for wildlife, and they pay for conservation. And if those opportunities are eliminated, the wildlife themselves are going to suffer in the end.”

The amendment does not make the rights to hunt guaranteed. It states that state laws and policies would still prohibit a convicted poacher from getting a hunting license.