Animal Law Voter Initiatives: The Results

Gillian Lyons

Early this week, Professor Cassuto linked us to a website which ran through all of the animal welfare based initiatives included on ballots across the country. Well, the results are in, and here they are:

The Losses:

Arkansas:  Capturing 83 % of the vote, Issue 1, which proposed a constitutional amendment that would secure the right for residents to hunt, fish, trap, and harvest wildlife in the state, was adopted by Arkansas residents.   As a result, Arkansas’s constitution will include this (slightly disturbing) article:


(1) Citizens of the state of Arkansas have a right to hunt, fish, trap, and harvest wildlife.

(2) The right to hunt, fish, trap, and harvest wildlife shall be subject only to regulations that promote sound wildlife conservation and management and are consistent with Amendment 35 of the Arkansas Constitution.

(b) Public hunting, fishing, and trapping shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling non-threatened species and citizens may use traditional methods for harvesting wildlife.

(c) Nothing in this amendment shall be construed to alter, repeal, or modify:

(1) Any provision of Amendment 35 to the Arkansas Constitution;

(2) Any common law or statute relating to trespass, private property rights, eminent domain, public ownership of property, or any law concerning firearms unrelated to hunting; or

(3) The sovereign immunity of the State of Arkansas.

* Amendment 35 creates the state Game and Fish Commission

South Carolina:  Capturing 89% of the vote, Amendment 1, which recognized a constitutional right “to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife was adopted by South Carolina voters.  The State’s Constitution will now include the below language:

“The traditions of hunting and fishing are valuable parts of the state’s heritage, important for conservation, and a protected means of managing nonthreatened wildlife. The citizens of this State have the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife traditionally pursued, subject to laws and regulations promoting sound wildlife conservation and management as prescribed by the General Assembly. Nothing in this section shall be construed to abrogate any private property rights, existing state laws or regulations, or the state’s sovereignty over its natural resources.”

Tennessee:  Capturing an astounding 90% of the vote, Tennessee voters adopted a hunting rights amendment to their constitution. The state constitution will not include the below language:

The citizens of this state shall have the personal right to hunt and fish, subject to reasonable regulations and restrictions prescribed by law. The recognition of this right does not abrogate any private or public property rights, nor does it limit the state’s power to regulate commercial activity. Traditional manners and means may be used to take non-threatened species.

North Dakota: 56.8% of North Dakota voters voted No to Measure 2, which would have banned canned hunting within the state.  Professor Cassuto’s discussion on the debate behind this Measure can be found here.

The Success Stories:

Arizona: 56% of Arizona Voters voted no to Proposition 109, which similar to Issue 1 in Arizona would have resulted in a constitutional right to hunting, fishing and harvesting.  Had this bill passed, Arizona’s constitution would have been altered to include the following language:

A. The citizens of this State have a right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife lawfully. Wildlife belongs to this State and is held in trust for the benefit of the citizens of this state.

B. Exclusive authority to enact laws to regulate the manner, methods or seasons for hunting, fishing and harvesting wildlife is vested in the Legislature, which may delegate rule making authority to a game and fish commission. No law shall be enacted and no rule shall be adopted that unreasonably restricts hunting, fishing and harvesting wildlife or the use of traditional means and methods. Laws and rules authorized under this section shall have the purpose of wildlife conservation and management and preserving the future of hunting and fishing.

C. Lawful public hunting and fishing shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife.

D. This section shall not be CONSTRUED to modify any provision of common law or statutes relating to trespass or property rights.

Missouri:  In a close (but wonderful) win, 51% of Missouri voters supported Prop B which establishes requirements for dog breeders within the state.  As Missouri is known to have the largest number of breeders in the United States (an estimated 3000 breeding facilities) this was a great win for animal welfare. The new requirements will require, among other things, set periods of time between a dog’s usage for breeding, caps on the number of breeding dogs a facility can own and requirements that dogs are fed daily (amazing that there must be a requirement telling someone to feed animals in their care.)  A great article on this proposition can be found here.

Overall, while there were successes in Missouri and Arizona, thanks to voters in South Carolina, Tennessee, North Dakota and Arkansas, animal welfare took a blow on November 2, 2010.

3 Responses

  1. Although some states have an amendment for a right to hunt, I think the Missouri success makes this election a win.

  2. Yes, we’ll take successes one at a time though it is more than sad that Arkansas, S. Carolina, Tennessee, and N. Dakota are still in the dark ages re compassion to animals. I believe all four are red states and the Republicans have not generally as a group voted compassionately re animal issues in Congress. I hope that anyone interested in seeing how their legislators voted on animal issues will look for the HSUS Humane Scoreboard on the internet. I receive the breakdown from the Humane Legislative branch of the HSUS periodically and am able to see how each voted or didn’t on animal issues. I imagine there are people in those 4 states who care about animals and would like to know this too.

  3. I live in Arkansas, own a hunting website and support the rights of hunters from coast to coast. I only hope that people understand that there are already laws in place to protect the animals by limiting the number and months they can be killed.

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