Marsh: Vote "Yes" on Question 1

Editors Note: The opinions below are that of the writer. See our official statement on the subject for more: Indiana Public Question 1- Symptom, Not a Solution

An important vote takes place on Tuesday, November 8th.

A turning point vote for Hoosiers.

Public question 1 on the ballot, the Indiana Right to Hunt and Fish Amendment.

As is often the case with elections, a great deal of misinformation, some might even say propaganda, is being thrown about the internet and other places, painting the amendment as a tectonic shift in the ability of the DNR and state legislature to manage wildlife in Indiana. Some are going so far as to imply that the amendment puts the future of entire species in jeopardy.

The people saying these things are, at best, ignorant busy-bodies, and at worst, malicious, lying progressives who aren’t comfortable with anyone doing anything they don’t personally want to do.

Political language can be difficult to read and even tougher to decipher. Surprisingly, the test of the proposal before Hoosiers is straightforward and clear. To avoid any confusion or accusations of spin on my behalf, here is the entire text of the proposed Section 39 that would be added to the state constitution:

Section 39. (a) The right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife: 1) is a valued part of Indiana's heritage; and (2) shall be forever preserved for the public good. (b) The people have a right, which includes the right to use traditional methods, to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife, subject only to the laws prescribed by the General Assembly and rules prescribed by virtue of the authority of the General Assembly to: (1) promote wildlife conservation and management; and (2) preserve the future of hunting and fishing. (c) Hunting and fishing shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. (d) This section shall not be construed to limit the application of any provision of law relating to trespass or property rights.

See what I mean? Pretty clear. It states, clearly, that the amendment in no way circumvents the governance of the general assembly. This isn’t some declaration of open season on the wildlife in Indiana by a sweeping amendment. It doesn’t give anyone the right to trespass to exercise their right to hunt or fish. It changes literally NOTHING, other than formalizing that hunting seasons and bag limits, as prescribed by the necessary oversight of state agencies, will be the preferred means of “managing and controlling wildlife.”

Indiana hunters contribute millions of dollars to the management of fish and wildlife resources in Indiana. All revenue from license sales bypasses the state’s general fund, where politicians could get their grubby little fingers on it, and is delivered directly to the departments that need it. In federal appointments alone, not state license fees, hunting led to $16.5 million coming into the state for resource management.

It's also worth noting that modern hunters have NEVER hunted an animal into endangered status. Rather, revenue and massive fundraising efforts BY HUNTERS have brought numerous species back from the brink of extinction. Canada geese, whitetail deer, pronghorn, black bear, elk, and numerous duck species are enjoying all-time population stability and health because of the money hunters spend to ensure they are here for generations to come.

The modern hunter is the single greatest conservationist the world has ever seen.

That fact is indisputable.

That doesn’t stop the opposition to this amendment from going on the march. Rep. Matt Pierce (D-61), for example criticized those who would support the measure by saying: “What you tend to hear from proponents is that they’ve heard of some nefarious conspiracy in which the Humane Society of the United States, in league with some multi-billionaire, will wash so much money into the political system that it will convince members of the legislature to outlaw hunting and fishing. It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”

It might surprise Mr. Pierce that anyone with access Google can find there are dozens of currently pending lawsuits where the HSUS is doing exactly that. They are using the court system to tie the hands of game management professionals across the country. The HSUS has made its opinion of hunting well known. But Mr. Pierce would apparently have us put decades of proven anti-hunting activism out of our mind. We’re being ridiculous.

Mr. Pierce, I disagree. Wholeheartedly.

What rock, may I ask, have you been living under?

How can you ignore the increasingly hateful and violent rhetoric that continues to be hurled at legal, law-abiding hunters around the world? You are either one of the most naïve human beings to walk the planet, or you accept this sort of attack on legal hunting activities. It’s obvious you don’t value these activities, as I fail to see the issue of protecting them if they aren’t being challenged.

The fact of the matter is that hunting and fishing is continually being challenged, in courtrooms, and the court of public opinion, every single day.

The opposition paints this amendment as some sort of radical, outlandish act by the state’s “bitter clingers.” In reality, 19 other states have similar constitutional protections. Vermont has held this right for its citizens since 1777.

It is my sincere hope, that on November 8th, Hoosiers will see thru the lies about the threat to the very wildlife that Indiana hunters hold so dear, and will affirm the rights of their fellow citizens to assist the state in managing these precious resources for generations to come.

Vote yes to Public Question 1 on November 8th.