Alabama voters will be faced Tuesday with an amendment designed to protect the right to "hunt, fish and harvest wildlife" that seems redundant to much of the state's media.
Amendment 5, backed by the National Rifle Association and largely unopposed, states that "The people have a right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife, including by the use of traditional methods, subject to reasonable regulations, to promote wildlife conservation and management, and to preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Hunting by the public and fishing by the public shall be the preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. This amendment shall not be construed to modify any provision of law relating to eminent domain, trespass, or property rights," the NRA reports in a press release
Alabama, which has 530,000 licensed hunters, passed a "Sportsperson's Bill of Rights" in 1996, The New York Times
reports, which would appear to give adequate protection to hunting and fishing rights.
The NRA notes that Amendment 5 passed the Alabama Senate 31-1 and the Alabama House by 90-2. However, state legislators and media still wonder whether it's necessary.
The Aniston Star editorialized
, "The proposed constitutional amendments before Alabama voters this election season are oozing with right-wing paranoia, the sort of tall tales once confined to meetings of the John Birch Society."
It added, "Talk about a solution in search of a problem. We don’t see evidence of groups — extremist or not, and well-funded or not — trying to ban hunting. The effort is redundant in that the state already protects the rights of hunters. The Star recommends a 'no' vote in order to keep one more amendment from a Constitution with almost 1,000 amendments."
The Dothan Eagle
said, "Alabamians can hunt and fish in accordance with state laws and regulations now, in the absence of a constitutional amendment. Our recommendation: Vote no."
Democratic state Rep. Patricia Todd told the Times, "The thing that frustrates me is, is this the most important thing facing Alabama? We’re like 48th in the nation with education funding, and we’re terrible at any kind of social service program. And then we have things like this that really divert us from the issues facing the state.
"I just can’t tell you how stupid I think it is."
Even the animal welfare group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is ignoring the vote.
"We’re not on the ground campaigning," Lindsay Rajt, the associate director of campaigns for PETA, told the Times. "Even if it passes, nothing changes. If it doesn’t pass, nothing changes. We want to be out there taking action in ways that directly help animals.”
She said the amendment "looks like a desperate attempt by hunters and hunting profiteers to make hunting seem relevant."
However, the NRA, in a poster the group provides to hunting clubs
and sporting goods stores, says, "Statewide Amendment 5 will protect our sporting traditions initiated by well-funded national anti-hunting groups that have assailed sportsmen throughout the country in recent years. Additionally, it specifies that wildlife conservation and management decisions will be based on sound science, not the misguided emotions of anti-hunting extremists."
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