Hunting and fishing not inalienable rights

Voters will find an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution that will make hunting a fundamental right on tomorrow’s ballot. The amendment, originally proposed by a group of hunting activists, is designed to make hunting, fishing and the taking of game a constitutional right of Minnesota residents. Hunters want this amendment to protect their activities from animal rights activists. In reality this amendment is poorly worded, costly and most importantly, unnecessary.
The amendment, in part, asks voters to “affirm that hunting and fishing and taking of game and fish are a valued part of our heritage that shall be forever preserved for the people.” This wording is a long stretch from being objective. The persuasive text leads voters to feel that by voting yes on Amendment Two, they are protecting their heritage and promoting important Minnesota values.
Likewise, the words “taking of game” are misleading. They euphemistically refer to trapping, a practice which has been deemed “inhumane” by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Are inhumane activities something that Minnesotans want to preserve as part of their heritage?
Taxpayers are bearing the costs of Amendment Two. According to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office, the addition of the hunters’ rights amendment to the ballot has already cost Minnesotans $114,000. As well, it is highly probable that expensive litigation will plague the state’s courts in the future should the amendment be approved. The amendment opens the door for lawyers to argue against hunting regulations, poaching convictions and inhospitable private property owners. Are taxpayers, who have already wasted $114,000, ready to foot the bill for the future problems the amendment may cause?
Our constitution is a basic legal charter that defines the fundamental rights of citizens. Recreational activities and hobbies are not fundamental rights, and therefore should not be included in a state constitution. Hunting and fishing privileges are provided for through licensing — much like driving, which requires a license and is a privilege enjoyed by many Minnesotans though it is not guaranteed in our constitution. The Minnesota Constitution has served us for 140 years and has been surprisingly amended 112 times. Hunting may seem important to a large number of Minnesotans, but is it something that will be essential to the state in another 140 years? Should our great-grandchildren decide that hunting should not be a part of their heritage, they will have to pass a new, costly amendment to undo our mistake.
Minnesotans should vote no to this frivolous amendment tomorrow. Amendment Two on tomorrow’s ballot has already cost taxpayers unnecessary time and money, and if it becomes the 113th amendment to the Minnesota Constitution, the costs will continue to mount. Moreover, it will make excessively violent practices a part of the heritage that we will pass on to future generations whether they want them or not.