Amendment to Protect Hunting and Fishing in Pennsylvania Passes State House

In January, the Pennsylvania House overwhelmingly approved a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution to protect the right to fish and hunt in the state.

By a vote of 189-11, the state House approved the amendment and sent it on to the Pennsylvania Senate for consideration. Under Pennsylvania’s constitution, an amendment must be approved by both chambers during two successive legislative sessions, and then must be approved by voters as well. The earliest that this amendment could go to voters would be in November 2005.

Rep. Matthew Baker, who introduced the legislation, said the proposed amendment was important to forestall future efforts to limit hunting, fishing and trapping in Pennsylvania. He told Penn State’s Collegian,

There’s not an immediate threat, but what a lot of people are failing to recognize is it is a lot easier to address these issues before there is a crisis than when there is a crisis.

Animal rights groups, of course, oppose the proposed amendment.

Fund for Animals’ released press release quoting national director Heidi Prescott opposing the amendment (emphasis added),

The constitution is a sacred document which shouldn’t be used as a graffiti
wall for political rhetoric.

. . .

To establish constitutional protections for recreational pursuits such as
hunting is not only inappropriate, but redundant. Nearly a
million people already hunt in Pennsylvania without having that ‘right’
enshrined in the constitution.

. . .

Prescott said the bill may expose the Pennsylvania Game Commission to
lawsuits from hunters who do not think any restriction on hunting is
reasonable – wanting larger bag limits, longer season dates, and additional
species to shoot.

Who knew animal rights activists were so concerned about frivolous lawsuits over hunting?

The full text of the proposed amendment can be read here.

Sources:

‘Right to hunt’ advances in Penn. Don Sapatkin, Philadelphia Inquirer, February 15, 2004.

Pa. law may protect hunting. Erin James, The Digital Collegian (Penn State), February 26, 2004.

No Constitutional ‘Right’ To Hunt, Say Animal Advocates. Fund for Animals, November 25, 2003.

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