Constitutional Protection of Hunting and Fishing Clears House Subcommittee

The House Environment and Wildlife Subcommittee voted today to give Oklahomans an opportunity to protect their right to hunt and fish by amending the state Constitution in November.

Senate Joint Resolution 38, by state Rep. Randy Terrill (R-Moore) and state Sen. Glenn Coffee (R-OKC), would require the Secretary of State to place a state question on the November ballot allowing citizens to determine whether the right to hunt and angle and take game and fish should be protected by the state Constitution. Terrill:

I call this measure the ‘Heritage Bill’ because we have a long tradition of hunting and fishing in this state that precedes statehood by centuries. Our right to hunt and fish is inherent and it deserves constitutional protection. It would be a mistake to turn a blind eye to the actions of liberal activist groups that are targeting outdoor gaming activities around the nation. This bill gives our citizens the chance to step up and protect their rights from being stolen by people who have no respect for our traditions and values.

The resolution will add a new section to the State Constitution that gives all Oklahomans the right to hunt, trap, fish, and take game and fish. The legislation would prevent new state laws from prohibiting anyone from engaging in such activities.

Award winning media personality, avid hunter and fisherman, and host of the television and radio program “Wild Oklahoma,” Ron Black told the committee than a 2007 study by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation showed the economic impact of hunting and angling on Oklahoma is more than $1 billion annually. In addition, hunting and angling keeps wildlife populations in check, reduces auto insurance rates by decreasing the number of deer that could cause accidents and protects agriculture land and products from destruction by deer and fowl, said Black.

Black noted that last year, more than 110,000 deer were taken during the hunting season:

We tend to take for granted in Oklahoma that we will always have the right to hunt and fish and pass those traditions on to our families, but that type of thinking has been a grave mistake in other areas of the country where the right to hunt and fish has been restricted by states, if not taken away completely. Our traditional way of life is under attack by animal rights activists and liberal groups that don’t understand the importance of outdoor gaming on our economy and our food supply. If we don’t use the state Constitution to protect our right to hunt and fish, we won’t have that right for very long.

Terrill noted the bill has received the support of both the Oklahoma Rifle Association and the National Rifle Association.

The measure now heads to the House Natural Resources Committee to await a hearing.

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