Oklahoma Hunting Issues on This Year's Ballot

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Oklahomans will soon get the chance to voice their opinions in the ballot box on many important issues, among them State Question 742. If Oklahomans pass the measure, the State Constitution will be amended to give all people the right to hunt, trap, fish and take game and fish. It would also make hunting, fishing, and trapping the preferred means to manage certain fish and game animals.

State Question 742 began as Senate Joint Resolution 38 by Sen. Glenn Coffee. The measure was passed by the State Legislature, signed by the Governor, and directed to the Secretary of the State to prepare and send to a vote of the people on Nov. 4.

During the legislative session, Sen. Coffee spoke about the measure.

"In recognizing the rich hunting and fishing heritage of our state, I authored SJR 38 to ensure the protection of hunters and fishers whose rights are under attack nationwide. This legislation ensures the protection of Oklahoma hunters and fishers and gives the people of Oklahoma a chance to decide if the right to hunt and fish will be added to the protections of our constitution," Coffee said. "Unfortunately, the rights of hunters and fishers are coming under attack across the country, such as efforts to ban fishing by declaring that fish feel pain."

If this question passes, hunting and fishing activities would still be subject to reasonable laws, rules and regulations as passed by the State Legislature and the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission.

"Passage of the measure could send a reinforcing message that the hunting and fishing traditions remain strong in Oklahoma," said Nels Rodefeld, chief of information and education for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "As a state agency, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation cannot take a stance on this state question or any other pending legislative actions, but we certainly encourage all Oklahomans to stay informed, to get involved in the political process and to vote."

In 2006, 1.2 million residents and non-residents participated in some form of fish and wildlife-related recreation in Oklahoma. These anglers, hunters and wildlife viewers spent $1.3 billion in retail sales ($1.2 billion by residents and $125 million by nonresidents), creating $696 million in salaries and wages and supporting 28,142 jobs. The total economic effect (multiplier effect) from fish and wildlife-related recreation was estimated at $2.3 billion.

Actual Ballot Text according to the Oklahoma Secretary of State's Web site: www.sos.state.ok.us/exec_legis/SQ_Proposed.asp#sq742

This measure adds a new section to the State Constitution. It adds Section 36 to Article 2. It gives all people of this state the right to hunt, trap, fish and take game and fish. Such activities would be subject to reasonable regulation. It allows the Wildlife Conservation Commission to approve methods and procedures for hunting, trapping, fishing and taking of game and fish. It allows for taking game and fish by traditional means. It makes hunting, fishing, and trapping the preferred means to manage certain game and fish. The new law will not affect existing laws relating to property rights.