By: Todd Smekens
March 2, 2017
Hunters and Fisherman See Their Rights Preserved
BLOG– Indiana has joined 19 other states in adopting a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment to preserve the right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife for the common good. The inclusion of the right to hunt and fish in Indiana’s constitution gives outdoorsmen and outdoor organizations a foundation to stand on in the courtroom if there ever is an overwhelming threat to hunting and fishing in the state of Indiana.
There are currently an estimated 392,00 hunters in the state of Indiana and 801,000 fishermen that this amendment pertains to. These hunters and anglers now have their right written into the state constitution just the same as free speech and the freedom of religion.
The amendment now lists hunting and angling as the preferred method for wildlife and game management. Whitetail deer are the primary species to hunt in Indiana. Their numbers are very cyclical in nature and can skyrocket to unsustainably high numbers within a few mild winters and a few bumper agricultural crops. When this happens, within a year or two, malnutrition in the herds becomes prevalent. This also results in crop damage to farmers. Inbreeding becomes an issue, traffic accidents go up, deer disease likelihood is much higher and eventually the population bubble bursts, causing the herd to crash down to below average numbers. Some states allow this to happen naturally or a state can choose to thin the herd through permitted hunting practices.
How This Affects Hunters
The way this constitutional amendment comes into play is the controversial decision to increase the deer harvest by hunters. This would happen either by allowing a larger number of deer to be taken per hunter or by allowing the amount of antlerless deer to be taken, thus raising hunters’ success percentage. If there is a spike in the whitetail herd and the state decides not to change harvest limits, the newly appointed amendment gives sportsman grounds for a potential lawsuit. If the state does raise harvest limits, and anti-hunting organizations litigate, the state has a means to defend their actions. Environmental and animal activist groups have often opposed an increase in harvest numbers. The inclusion of the newly-ratified amendment secures the state’s right to do so and prevents any potential litigation from being brought forth by other interest groups.
Hunters’ and Anglers’ Responsibilities
The amendment was supported and backed by the National Rifle Association. The association is urging hunters to make a name for themselves as being safe, responsible and active citizens. To cut back on accidents at home, hunters should consider keeping their guns in a locked safe that has been tested by professional safe crackers. Fishermen should keep knives and hooks in a high-level storage area out of reach of children.
Many sportsmen are expecting regulations to become stricter pertaining to hunter safety classes as a result of the new proposition passing. As stated in the amendment, hunting “is a valued part of Indiana’s heritage; and shall be forever preserved for the public good.” It is up to the hunters and anglers to uphold the code and conduct that applies to hunting, fishing and harvesting wildlife in the area.