Kansans' right to hunt, fish, trap to appear on Nov. ballot

Staff writer

It may surprise some outdoor enthusiasts that their right to hunt, fish, and trap is on November’s ballot.

Marion hunter Chris Brewer believes hunting, trapping, and fishing are more than a right.

“Hunting is a way of life,” Brewer said. “Without it, none of us would be here.”

He said hunting, trapping, and fishing are a vital part of the United States’ birthright because ancestors survived the wilderness largely by harvesting beasts, birds, and fish.

“Nowadays it is called a ‘sport,’ but a lot of us still consider it a way to put meat on the table and provide food for our families,” Brewer said. “Not that we necessarily have to, but it is a part of our heritage and our way of life.”

Chairman of Kansas Wildlife Parks and Tourism Gerald Lauber explained why this item was added to the ballot.

“Hunting, fishing, and trapping are a privilege and the passage of this amendment would create a right,” Lauber said. “While we are not in danger of losing this privilege today, the future is not clear. Anti-hunting activists never sleep and are constantly looking for opportunities to chip away at our hunting heritage.”

He said fishing and trapping also are “perennial targets” of animal rights activists that are “up to mischief all across the country.”

A ballot explanatory statement of this item said a vote for this proposition would constitutionally preserve Kansans’ right to hunt, fish, and trap wildlife traditionally harvested.

Lauber said a vote against the proposition would not initially cause any problems with the way hunting rules and regulations work in Kansas.

“It would mean that we’ve lost our right to protect the right for our future generations,” Lauber said. “Nineteen other states have already passed it. I think it’s a protection that’s worth the effort.”

Marion hunter Thomas Ash has read up on the proposition.

“It should be a constitutional right in all states,” Ash said. “[If it passes] it wouldn’t mean folks could hunt whenever or wherever they chose in any way. Current laws wouldn’t change.”

The ballot’s explanatory statement said the public right is subject to state laws and rules and regulations regarding the management of wildlife and does not change or diminish common law or statutory rights relating to trespass, eminent domain, or private property.

The newspaper attempted to locate someone within Marion County who was opposed to the proposition but was unable to find anyone by press time.

However, Marion resident Jeannie Wildin noted a problem that might arise should the proposition fail to pass.

“Control and conservation happens through hunting,” Wildin said. “Can you imagine how much more crop damage and car wrecks we would have if the deer population wasn’t controlled somewhat through hunting?”

Lauber said hunting, fishing, and trapping were a good way to manage and control wildlife.

“Limits are set and designed to ensure the preservation of the source or the species of animal,” he said. “In urban settings, sometimes the wildlife balance gets out of sync, and hunting helps control populations.”

He noted that there was almost unanimous support of the proposition in the Senate and House of Representatives.

“We believe it can be passed and now is the time to do it,” Lauber said.

Last modified Oct. 6, 2016