Bill seeks constitutional protections for hunting, fishing

Undated file photo.

RALEIGH – A bill filed this week in the North Carolina General Assembly would begin the process of amending the state constitution to guarantee citizens’ rights to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife. Senate Bill 889 was introduced May 26 by primary sponsors Sens. Andrew Brock (R-Davie), Buck Newton (R-Wilson), and Jim Davis (R-Macon).

The bill would put the amendment language on the Nov. 8 statewide general election ballot. The amendment language would establish that hunting and fishing are the preferred means of managing and controlling the state’s wildlife. The bill also makes clear that the right does not trump any laws related to eminent domain, trespass, or property rights.

Passage of the bill would make North Carolina the 20th state to constitutionally guarantee a right to hunt and fish. Vermont’s constitutional provision dates back to 1777. The other 18 states (including North Carolina’s neighboring states of Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia) have passed constitutional provisions since 1996. California and Rhode Island have constitutional provisions that protect fishing, but not hunting. Alaska also has a common law right to hunt and fish which has been established by courts.

The full language of the amendment that would be on the ballot is:

The right of the people to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife, including by the use of traditional methods, shall not be infringed, subject to laws and regulations to promote wildlife conservation and management, to maintainnatural resources in trust for public use, and to preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Public hunting and fishing shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. Nothing herein shall be construed tomodify any provision of law relating to eminent domain, trespass, or property rights.