Indiana passed a constitutional amendment to protect a Hoosier’s right to “hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife.” The Associate Press projects the amendment will pass with 80 percent of voters favoring, 20 percent opposing and 52 percent of precincts reporting.
The constitutional amendment, known on the ballot as Public Question 1, states:
“Shall the Constitution of the State of Indiana be amended by adding a Section 39 to Article 1 to provide that the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife shall be forever preserved for the public good, subject only to the laws prescribed by the General Assembly and rules prescribed by virtue of the authority of the General Assembly to: (1) promote wildlife conservation and management; and (2) preserve the future of hunting and fishing?”
This amendment does not change current laws. It constitutionally protects the right to hunt and fish and the General Assembly’s position as the only authority that can change these laws.
National Rifle Association spokesperson Catherine Mortensen says it’s important to protect Hoosiers’ hunting rights in the future.
“This is really something for future generations, to ensure future generations of hunters and fishermen in Indiana have that right,” Mortensen says.
Nineteen other states have right to hunt and fish amendments. Vermont passed the very first one in 1777, but the rest have all come since 1996. The NRA supported all 18 of those. It helps legislators pass bills and mobilizes public support.
Kansas is also voting on a right to hunt and fish amendment this year.
Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources, which manages hunting and fishing at the state level, said in a statement that it’s “statutory authority to manage fish and wildlife” will not be impacted by the amendment.
Animal rights groups opposed the amendment. State director for the Humane Society’s Indiana chapter Erin Huang says hunting and fishing rights are not at risk in Indiana, and the amendment is a solution to something that’s not a problem.
“I do think things will remain somewhat similar. We were disappointed that this measure passed, but we do believe that there’s still room for us to continue working on the worst types of wildlife abuse,” says Huang.
The Indiana legislature passed a bill in 2011 that prevents local governments from creating stricter gun ordinances.
Right to Hunt and Fish is the 11th consecutive amendment to the state constitution in the past 20 years.