Monday, July 08, 2024

Florida's Proposed Protection of Hunting and Fishing Amendment

The Florida State Legislature has proposed a Right to Hunt and Fish amendment to the Florida State Constitution. The Amendment will appear on the November 5, 2024 election ballot as Amendment 2. The amendment will require a supermajority of 60% of the vote to approve the measure. The amendment reads as follows:


Fishing, hunting, and the taking of fish and wildlife.—Fishing, hunting, and the taking of fish and wildlife, including by the use of traditional methods, shall be preserved forever as a public right and preferred means of responsibly managing and controlling fish and wildlife. This section does not limit the authority granted to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission under Section 9 of Article IV.

The first state to protect hunting and fishing in its constitution was Vermont, in 1777. Here is Vermont's version:

§ 67. [Hunting; fowling and fishing]

The inhabitants of this State shall have liberty in seasonable times, to hunt and fowl on the lands they hold, and on other lands not inclosed, and in like manner to fish in all boatable and other waters (not private property) under proper regulations, to be made and provided by the General Assembly.

The limitations on government provided by the federal and state constitutions, as well as the abundance of fish and game, showed the amendment in Vermont was ahead of its time.

After World War II,  increasing urbanization and Disneyfication of animals in the public mind lead to a rise in attitudes against hunting and fishing. 22 more states codified protections of the right to hunt and fish into their state constitutions, beginning with Alabama in 1996.

The 23 states which have such amendments are:  Alabama - 1996, Arkansas - 2010, Georgia - 2006, Idaho - 2012, Indiana - 2016, Kansas - 2016, Kentucky - 2016, Louisiana - 2004, Mississippi - 2014, Minnesota - 1998, Montana - 2004, Nebraska - 2012, North Carolina - 2018, North Dakota - 2000, Oklahoma - 2008, South Carolina - 2010, Tennessee - 2010, Texas - 2015, Vermont - 1777, Utah - 2020, Virginia - 2000, Wisconsin - 2003, and Wyoming - 2012.

Missouri is considering such an amendment.

Rhode Island protects the right to fish, with an amendment passed in 1844. California has a fishing only amendment, passed in 1910.

There is serious opposition to the Florida amendment, including a number of "animal rights" type groups. They are listed at the Ballotpedia page about the amendment. The primary opposition is

Proponents of the amendment include conservationists and sportsmans' groups. They are also listed on the Ballotpedia page. The primary proponent is listed as Yes on 2.

Analysis: The right to hunt and fish amendments are another facet of the push back against unlimited government power. The Vermont amendment in 1777 was in direct opposition to royal power, where game was considered the property of the King and/or nobles. Common people only hunted or fished by poaching. In the new world, everyone hunted and fished. Game was abundant. No one wanted to allow a king to control their right to hunt and fish. These amendments are a facet of the conflict between people in rural areas and people in urban centers.

After 1900, game and fish were not as abundant as they used to be. Conservationists, such as President Theodore Roosevelt, pushed for conservation of wild animals and fish. Others went beyond the concept of wise conservation of resources to the idea animals should be treated as people.

Today, there are numerous organizations which raise millions of dollars by appealing to emotion. The ideology seems to be  animals should never be killed, at least not by humans. The proponents don't seem to be bothered by animals killing one another. The greatest number of bears which are killed are cubs killed and eaten by bigger bears. There was opposition to a mild restoration of the right of humans to protect themselves and their property, where less than a fifty  bears are likely to be killed in such circumstances in a year. The opposition ignored the hundreds of bears killed by other bears. It is typical such opposition comes from people in urban centers who do not live with the consequences of the laws they push, which mostly affect people in rural areas.

©2024 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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