By Katie Meehan
Voters in Indiana and Kansas will decide on Election Day whether to amend their respective constitutions to guarantee the right of citizens to hunt and fish.
Both ballot measures are supported by the National Rifle Association and are opposed by anti-hunting groups. Similar legislation is pending in Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York.
Those supporting the measures seek to secure an individual’s right to hunt and fish. Opponents are primarily animal rights activists and other groups seeking to end or curtail the practice of hunting. State agencies in both Indiana and Kansas will continue to regulate hunting and fishing, regardless of whether the ballot initiatived pass.
Nineteen states guarantee the right to hunt and fish in their constitutions. Vermont was the first state to pass this initiative in 1777 and over the next 200 years,18 more states followed suit.
Nevada passed language to amend its constitution to include the right to hunt and fish in 2015, but the language will not be effective until the 2017 Legislature formalizes it and voters have their say during the 2018 General Election.
California and Rhode Island have language in their respective constitutions guaranteeing the right to fish, but not to hunt. Oklahoma is considering a similar 2016 ballot initiative to include a constitutional amendment securing the right to farm and ranch..
See all of this year’s ballot measures by visiting NCSL’s Ballot Measure Database.
Katie Meehan is a research analyst in NCSL’s Environment, Energy, and Transportation Program.