Arkansas Legislature Debates Amendment to State Constitution to Protect Right to Hunt

In March, the Arkansas legislature began debating Senate Joint Resolution 1 which would create a ballot item which, if approved, would amend that state’s constitution to create a right to hunt, fish and trap.

The proposed amendment reads, in part,

(a) Hunting, trapping, fishing, and the taking of wild animals, birds,
and fish are a valued part of our heritage and will be forever preserved for
the people of Arkansas.

No part of this Amendment shall be deemed to supersede Amendment
35 of the Arkansas Constitution or the Game and Fish Commission’s authority
to promulgate rules and regulations consistent with Amendment 35 and this

The Arkansas Fish and Game Commission has expressed concern that the amendment might undermine its ability to regulate hunting, fishing and trapping in the state, which lead the sponsors of the proposed amendment to modify language that was seen as undermining Amendment 35 of the state constitution which created the Fish and Game Commission and empowered it to oversee wildlife conservation in the state.

The amendment was also modified after some feared it would allow hunters to hunt on private property even where property owners did not want hunters.

Some lawmakers, such as Rep. Jodie Mahoney, argued that the amendment was not needed since hunting and fishing are not currently threatened in Arkansas.

Sen. Steve Faris, who co-chairs the joint committee writing the amendment, disagreed noting that hunting, fishing and trapping have come under assault from animal rights activists in other states,

This puts a mechanism in the (state) constitution for hunting and fishing to be forever protected. It’s a sacred thing for this state.

Under Arkansas’ constitution, an amendment only requires that a majority of the both houses of legislature approve it, followed by a majority of voters at the following subsequent election. Currently, supporters of the amendment are aiming to have it on the November 2006 ballot.

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


‘Right’ word proves irksome. Seth Blomely, March 18, 2005.

Joint committee debates proposed constitutional amendments. Wesley Brown, Arkansas News, March 18, 2005.

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