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Proposed Constitutional Amendment on Right to Hunt, Fish, and Harvest Wildlife

Senate Bill 677 gives voters the opportunity to add protections on the right to hunt and fish to the North Carolina Constitution

There are several proposed amendments to the North Carolina Constitution that will appear on the November 2018 ballot.

The Senate Bill 677 ballot will read as follows:

[ ] FOR [ ] AGAINST

Constitutional amendment protecting the right of the people to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife.

The text of the amendment would read as follows:

Right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife.

The right of the people to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife is a valued part of the State’s heritage and shall be forever preserved for the public good. The people have a right, including the right to use traditional methods, to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife, subject only to laws enacted by the General Assembly and rules adopted pursuant to authority granted by the General Assembly to (i) promote wildlife conservation and management and (ii) preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Public hunting and fishing shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. Nothing herein shall be construed to modify any provision of law relating to trespass, property rights, or eminent domain.”

This amendment is a solution looking for a problem. It is unclear what and how this amendment would protect the right to hunt and fish. Would it negate other North Carolina laws that regulate the right to hunt and fish? Would it give environmentalists standing to argue that polluted waters impair this right?

The sentence “Public hunting and fishing shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife” could also be problematic. For example, would the right to hunt supersede the right of N.C. State’s Veterinary School right to control wildlife as an academic project?

It remains to be seen how the North Carolina courts would interpret this amendment, but it is certainly possible that this amendment could lead to a lot of litigation to determine its meaning.

The full text of Senate Bill 677 and the North Carolina Constitution are available on the Legislature’s website.

Six Constitutional Amendments will be on the ballot in November. They are:

1. Right to Hunt, Fish, and Harvest Wildlife (Senate Bill 677)

2. Selection of Judicial Vacancies (Senate Bill 814)

3. Bipartisan State Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement (House Bill 913)

4. Rights of Victims of Crime (House Bill 551)

5. Seven Percent Cap on Income Tax Rate (Senate Bill 75)

6. Voter ID (House Bill 1092)

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