Amendment would make hunting, fishing a right

Monday, November 3rd 2008, 1:02 pm
By: News On 6

Special from The News On 6

When you vote tomorrow, you'll also have your say on four state questions.  State Question 742 would ensure all Oklahoma citizens have the right to hunt, trap, and fish.

It seems straight forward, but The News On 6 asked those opposed to it about what they say are hidden consequences.

Stephen Eberle is part of a group strongly opposed to State Question 742, which would make hunting, fishing and trapping a right protected by the Oklahoma Constitution.

"Hunting, fishing are all protected in the State of Oklahoma. They're not infringed on at all. And, why create a constitutional amendment to do this is beyond us," said Stephen Eberle.

The amendment was introduced by Oklahoma Senator Glenn Coffee.

But, those opposed to it say it's poorly worded and vague, leaving Oklahoma's door wide open for unwanted activities.

"It totally protects and defends what may be barbaric hunting practices, such as steel jaw leg traps," said Stephen Eberle.  "Going after perhaps endangered species, saying that the endangered species law is trumped by the Constitution of Oklahoma and; therefore, I can hunt bald eagles. I can hunt whatever I care to."

Eberle says the vague wording could even protect convicted felons caught with weapons and once it's in the constitution, citizens won't be able to change it.    

But, the folks at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation say it's not that complicated.  They say the amendment would simply ensure the current process of wildlife conservation.

"The actual process that's going on right now, whether this passes or doesn't pass, won't change. But, basically this is putting all this into a right basically to ensure that in the future should any challenges come up against it," said Daniel Griffith with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

They say if the state question passes it would make hunting, fishing and trapping a right, not just a privilege.

"State Question 742 would not prohibit citizens from having the right to protest against anything. But, it does, it's basically asking do we want to continue managing wildlife the way we do now," said Daniel Griffith with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

If the state question passes, animal rights groups plan to sue the State of Oklahoma to prove it's unconstitutional.