Texas becomes the 19th state to guarantee right to hunt

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Image via tpwd.texas.gov

Voters in the Lone Star state overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative that enshrined the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife by traditional methods in the state constitution.

The measure, entered as Proposition 6-SJR 22 in last week's general election, saw a staggering 1,258,472 voters approve it-- over 81 percent of all votes cast.

The ballot referendum added the following language to the Texas State Constitution:

The people have the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife, including by the use of traditional methods, subject to laws or regulations to conserve and manage wildlife and preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Hunting and fishing are preferred methods of managing and controlling wildlife. This section does not affect any provision of law relating to trespass, property rights, or eminent domain. This section does not affect the power of the legislature to authorize a municipality to regulate the discharge of a weapon in a populated area in the interest of public safety.

The measure puts Texas in the same club as Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming who have the right to hunt and fish cemented into their constitutions. While Vermont passed theirs back in 1777, the other 18 have done so in the past two decades, typically through voter initiatives.

Not all, however, were in love with the bill, calling hunting a "bloody pastime" People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' Senior Vice President Lisa Lange was an outspoken critic.

"An amendment to 'protect' the right to hunt and fish is bizarre and frivolous — it would clutter up the most important charter of government and open the door to a flood of other amendments whose sole purpose is to make political statements for special-interest groups," Lange said.

The legislation had the strong support of gun rights and sportsman's organizations to include the National Rifle Association, Safari Club International, Lone Star Bowhunters, National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Texas Farm Bureau, Texas Deer Association, and the Wildlife Habitat Federation.

The groups argued it was needed to help prevent anti-hunting and fishing groups such as the Humane Society of the United States and PETA from pushing legislation that would trim back hunting and game fishing in the Lone Star State.

"The Texas Constitutional Right to Hunt and Fish, Proposition 6 on the November ballot, will protect our outdoor traditions from attacks initiated by well-funded, national anti-hunting groups that have assailed sportsmen throughout the country in recent years," said the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action in an alert on the eve of its passage. "In addition, it ensures that wildlife and conservation management decisions will be based on sound science, not the misguided emotions of anti-hunting and anti-fishing extremists."

The text of Proposition 6 is now Section 34 to Article 1 of the Texas Constitution.

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