TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A proposed constitutional amendment that would guarantee the right to hunt, fish and trap in Kansas is designed to turn away any efforts by animal rights groups to restrict or ban those practices, one of the amendment’s sponsors said.
The amendment is co-authored by Democratic Rep. Adam Lusker of Frontenac and Republican Rep. Travis Coutoure-Lovelady of Palco. If approved by the Kansas Legislature, the proposal would go to voters in the next election, The Joplin Globe reported.
“Vermont put it in their state constitution in 1777, so it’s nothing new by any means, to protect those basic rights and not have a threat of outside groups to come in our state at some point and try to impede them,” Lusker said. “We felt like this amendment would protect that right and those freedoms forever — as long as we are a state.”
Eighteen states guarantee the right to hunt and fish through constitutional amendments. A similar proposal failed in Missouri last year, but a lawmaker there said it would be reintroduced.
Kristin Simon, a cruelty casework manager with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said such constitutional amendments make it difficult to ban practices such as bow hunting and body gripping traps, which she said many citizens find offensive. PETA has about 13,000 members in Kansas.
About 1.2 million people hunt, fish or watch wildlife in Kansas, spending around $906 million, said Ron Kaufman of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. The state sold $22.7 million in hunting and fishing licenses in 2014, about a third of the agency’s revenue of $73.7 million.
In neighboring Missouri, a similar effort was introduced in the Legislature last year but didn’t advance. Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City, who supported the measure, said supporters will try again.
“We look at our Missouri heritage, and the vast majority of adults around had dads or grandpas who went duck hunting, turkey hunting, deer — whatever — and they’re now doing it with their kids, grandkids,” Davis said. “Before someone tries to take that away, we have to get it in the Missouri Constitution, and in Kansas.”
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