Ryan Flaming supports a constitutional amendment question appearing on the ballot in the general election. That's really not unexpected, as Flaming is an avid hunter.
“I like the idea,” Flaming said. “A lot of people hunt to feed their families, and I do not think people know that. … Hunting is an important part of how some people in Kansas survive.”
Constitutional Amendment 1 would add a new section to the state's Bill of Rights to explicitly preserve hunting and fishing. Any future measures seeking to limit hunting or fishing would need proof a particular animal could become endangered. If approved by voters, the measure would make the state among roughly 20 in which hunting and fishing are a constitutional right.
The ballot question, which appears on the second page of the ballots in Harvey County, next to judge retentions, has been a little confusing to some voters.
Some have come to the early voting station in the Harvey County Courthouse to get a sample ballot, wanting to read the question on the constitutional amendment. Others have called the clerks' office seeking an explanation.
“There really is not much I can say, other than what it is,” said Rick Piepho, county clerk. “A vote for the amendment and it gets written into the constitution, a vote against and the constitution gets left alone.”
The amendment, approved unanimously in the state senate and with only seven no votes in the state house of representatives reads:
“The people have the right to hunt, fish and trap, including by the use of traditional methods, subject to reasonable laws and regulations that promote wildlife conservation and management and that preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Public hunting and fishing shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. This section shall not be construed to modify any provision of law relating to trespass, property rights or water resources”
According to Rep. Don Schroeder (R-Hesston), who is unopposed in the current election, the amendment issue arose during the last legislative session out of a desire by some legislators to preserve hunting and gun rights in Kansas.
“It is coming from people who are strong advocates of the second amendment and gun ownership,” Schroeder said. “I think what is behind it, and this is a little speculation on my part, is there are animal rights people who try and supress people's hunting and fishing rights. Many of the hunting areas in he state are now leased by private organizations. … There are less hunting and fishing available, especially hunting for the public these days. As far as I can tell, those are the main things behind it.”
According to the Associated Press, The National Rifle Association has said animal-rights groups pressed to ban the hunting of certain animals that weren't endangered. A 1990 ballot initiative banned mountain lion hunting in California. Campaigns by animal-protection groups in 2006 brought about a ban on dove hunting in Michigan.
Ron Klataske, Audubon of Kansas' executive director, told the Associated Press the measure might prevent citizens from stepping in to prevent unsportsmanlike practices, and that the greatest threat to hunters is the loss of habitat, not animal-rights organizations. Klataske said, "it's ridiculous to put something like that in the state constitution."
Early voting at the county courthouse is underway, with polls open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday,