Vote “NO” on Proposed KS Constitutional Amendment about Wildlife
from Elaine Giessel, Conservation Chair, Kansas Chapter
Proposed Amendment §21. Right of public to hunt, fish and trap wildlife. The people have the right to hunt, fish and trap, including by the use of traditional methods, subject to reasonable laws and regulations that promote wildlife conservation and management and that preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Public hunting and fishing shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. This section shall not be construed to modify any provision of law relating to trespass, property rights or water resources.
During the last legislative session in Topeka, our lawmakers approved putting proposed Constitutional Amendment 21 on the November 8 ballot. If approved by a simple majority of eligible Kansas voters, the right to hunt, fish and trap will be added to the Kansas Bill of Rights, along with such notable entitlements as equality, free speech and prohibition of slavery.
The Kansas Sierra Club opposes this constitutional amendment.
The proposed amendment would appear to be a case of a solution in search of a problem. If the amendment passes, current laws and regulations governing hunting, fishing and trapping of wildlife would still apply, as the proposed right is subject to reasonable laws and regulations. If the amendment fails, there would be no changes to current laws and regulations.
However, one sentence in the proposed amendment is of special concern: “Public hunting and fishing shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife.” The use of the verb “shall” implies legal obligation and “wildlife” includes both game and nongame species.
Wildlife “control” issues are complex and often have to be addressed case by case. Management decisions should be based on the best available science and on recommendations made by expert wildlife biologists. All reasonable alternatives for maintaining healthy ecosystems must be considered and evaluated. Public hunting, fishing and trapping remain options but cannot be required as a preferred solution.
The national Sierra Club has a policy that supports restoring and maintaining whole and healthy natural systems that provide diverse habitat for our wildlife and that include open spaces where Americans hike, camp, hunt and fish.
The Kansas Sierra Club believes that game and nongame wildlife contribute to the quality of life for all Kansans. Our native plants and animals are held in public trust by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. KDWPT is tasked with managing, enhancing and protecting these valuable natural resources and already actively promotes and regulates hunting, fishing and trapping as part of its conservation efforts.
If you are not yet convinced that we don’t need a constitutional amendment to protect public access to hunting, fishing and trapping, I recommend the following editorial piece from the Hays Daily News:
The Sierra Club has been at the forefront of the movement to protect America’s wild places, and the beauty, escape, clean water, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities they provide. Our Wild America Campaign works to create a national network of connected wild lands and marine areas to preserve America’s natural, cultural, and recreational heritage. Thanks for your ongoing support!