Lawmakers hope to protect hunting rights in Kentucky Constitution

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg

By John Cheves –

Several state lawmakers want constitutional protection for Kentuckians’ right to hunt and fish, although they acknowledge that no authority has threatened this right in anyone’s memory.

A bill calling for a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment was pre-filed for the 2011 General Assembly by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg; Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville; and Rep. John “Bam” Carney, R-Campbellsville. The legislature convenes Jan. 4.

“The citizens of Kentucky have the right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife, including the use of traditional methods, subject only to statutes enacted by the legislature,” the amendment would read, in part. “Public hunting and fishing shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife.”

The measure reflects bipartisan concern in Frankfort following President Barack Obama’s health-care reform law and what some people see as overreaching by the federal government, Carney said. The right to own and use guns might be targeted by federal legislation in the future, he said.

“We thought it was important that we make a statement here for states’ rights,” Carney said. “I don’t see any imminent threat to our hunting rights at the moment. But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say.”

Stumbo denied that his participation in the bill is meant to reflect a protest of Obama.

“No, we’re afraid the damn Republicans will ruin the economy again and we’ll all need to hunt and fish to survive,” Stumbo retorted.

Stumbo spokesman Brian Wilkerson said Kentucky is simply joining other states that want to enact “a blanket protection” of hunting against any future restrictions.

“It’s been part of a national movement,” Wilkerson said. “Arkansas, South Carolina and Tennessee just voted for something similar in the November elections.”

The bill is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, intended for pandering to conservative voters, said Transylvania University political scientist Don Dugi.

“This has to be one of the silliest things I’ve heard in a long time,” Dugi said.

“The national government, with the exception of treaties controlling international boundaries, has never taken a hand in hunting. It’s always been a matter for the states,” Dugi said. “This is making people feel like they’re accomplishing something when, in fact, they’re accomplishing nothing.”

Although nobody has tried to outlaw hunting and fishing, the sports are on decline in Kentucky and elsewhere because of an aging population, more sedentary lifestyles, a loss of wild habitat and other causes.

Surveys by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tracked a drop in the number of Kentucky adults who hunt, fish or both, from 779,000 in 1996 to 670,000 in 2006. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife on Wednesday said it could not immediately produce data, but that hunting and fishing license requests have steadily dropped for years.

Hunting and fishing remain an important part of life in Eastern Kentucky, said Combs, the Pikeville lawmaker co-sponsoring the bill. Everyone she meets wants the Constitution changed to specifically protect the right to hunt and fish, she said.

“When I talk about putting this out as a constitutional amendment and passing it, it gives everyone a certain comfort level,” Combs said.

Filed Under: Greg StumboKY General Assembly

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  1. Stateboy says:

    With all the real issues that confront this state, everyone seems so anxious to throw a constitutional amendment at a problem that doesn’t exist. Since there will not be a choice of “Stupid & Unnecessary – Get to Work on Something Important”, I’ll be voting against this.

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  3. Greg says:

    Will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  4. bigtallguyfromKY says:

    It seems that hunting for sport (rather than food) is a good proof that God doesn’t exist.

    What would a benevolent god think would be the purpose of hunting for sport?

    No other animal does it. And if a god invented man, why would he give man this desire?

  5. Bleu says:

    The real question is why is Stumbo being so quiet and conservative- why is he touting a “politically safe” non issue, instead of mixing things up like he normally does?

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  7. jim anderson stivers says:

    I’m with STATEBOY on this one.

    All this is a favor the NRA so it may be used in a court of law as a future reference.

    The need to ammend our constituion for this is totaly unecessary.

    Jim Anderson Stivers

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  9. TomThumb says:

    You want to protect hunting rights? How about removing some of the taxes and laws restricting hunting?


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  11. Lou says:

    This bill is actually a horrible idea. Once hunting and fishing is identified as a right, it’s not much of a stretch for a judge to rule that the government can’t charge for hunting and fishing licenses. The funds from those sales go entirely to conservation efforts; in fact, Kentucky’s Dept. of Fish and Wildlife receives no tax dollars from the general fund, just funds from license sales. So a vote to make hunting and fishing a right could be the first step to undermining the commonwealth’s entire conservation program.

    Arizona voted against a similar measure last election. Hopefully folks in our legislature have the common sense to do likewise.

  12. Marion County says:

    Do not bet on that. These baffoons in Frankfort spend more time on non issues than real issues. I am a long time hunter and see this simply as political posturing at its worst. Hunting and fishing are not threatened at all and I am tired of the sky is falling mentality. At a time where our taxpayers are being ask to pay for Ark Parks and such with tax money, yet these same people would cry bloody murder if Muslims and Jews ask for the same tax money to build theier own religious park.
    Its sad but how far the state has fallen. We need real people with moral authority to run this state. Sadly there are few up there. Stumbo, Combs and this Carney guy are a joke and know they are only doing stupid stuff like this for political gain, not gain of the Commonwealth.
    Where are they to protect our tax money to going to the Ark Park? Hell they support that too! grow some guys and girls.

  13. Progressive says:

    Well until guns are outlawed nothing good can happen. If Kentucky Democrats would stand up and ban all guns for private ownership it would boost the over all views and opinions of Kentucky. When did Democrats loose their guts to stand up to one of our most important issues we face. Guns in Kentucky must go. Period. And shame to all the Democrats that are not standing up and fighting to ban these useless killing machines and get them out of the hands of untrained citizens.

  14. onemind says:

    The “right to hunt” ..”subject only to statutes enacted by the Kentucky Legislature”? What a meaningless joke on the public. A “right” is not a right if the legislature can regulate it. It is “the right to this as long as you do it the way and to the extent I allow it”. How stupid Stumbo knows we are.

  15. onemind says:

    You might want to heck with the United States Supreme Court on this. They just ruled last year what your proposing violates the Constitutional rights of our citizens.

  16. Big Ben 4 liberty says:

    Ah, I see “progressive” wants Kentucky to become like New Jersey with respect to the 2nd Amendment. A police state on guns where only violent and dangerous criminals and the cops (who are often crooks themselves, especially in union-thug controlled police departments like in New Jersey) have legal access to them.

    Thus peaceful law-abiding citizens are not targets for both violent criminals (who prefer disarmed victims) and shakedowns by corrupt, fascist cops.

  17. Vampire Hunter says:

    Perhaps not all desires come from God but some can come from Satan is my answer

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