We need to protect our right in NC to hunt and fish
One of the things our family loves most about our adopted home state of North Carolina is the abundance of outdoor recreational activities, including hunting and fishing. This year we have an opportunity to protect these cherished traditions by voting to amend the state constitution to protect our right to hunt and fish.
In our suburban Chapel Hill neighborhood, I have seen the important role that hunting plays in wildlife conservation. As cochairs of our neighborhood deer management committee, my husband and I work with the N.C. Bowhunters Association to perform our annual deer culling program. Our primary objective is to reduce or maintain deer numbers in residential or other highly-developed areas to minimize humandeer conflicts while preserving or improving herd health. The harvest provides meat for the hunters, and is often shared with local food banks and an animal rescue shelter.
For years my husband hunted elk in Colorado. Almost every year he brought home elk meat that I would turn into a delicious beef bourguignon. When I served it to friends, they were always shocked to learn it was elk meat.
If we don’t show our support for the right to hunt and fish amendment to the state constitution, we could lose these long held traditions. For years, extremist animal rights groups have been chipping away at these rights. California banned mountain lion hunting in the 1990s; Michigan banned dove hunting in the 2000s; and just this year, New Jersey’s governor banned bear hunting.
We are fortunate that in North Carolina the right to hunt and fish has broad bipartisan support. The resolution to bring this amendment to the ballot passed the state Senate 41-6 and the House 92-23. In total, 21 states have constitutional amendments protecting the right to hunt and fish.
Passing a constitutional right to hunt and fish is critical to funding fish and wildlife research and conservation. Hunters and anglers directly fund these efforts through a variety of licenses, taxes and fees. In 2017, the sale of hunting licenses in North Carolina brought in $10.5 million and fishing licenses brought in $19.7 million. Those fees, paid by hunters and anglers, go directly to fund conservation.
In addition, North Carolina receives funding each year from a federal excise tax collected on the purchase of firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment. Last year, total revenue from firearms and ammunition taxes was $761.6 million. North Carolina received $20.7 million through this program.
These funds, as required by federal law, must be spent on wildlife conservation, hunter education and public shooting ranges. Because of this program, wildlife that was once in peril is now abundant. The wild turkey population in North Carolina, for example, has increased from an estimated 2,000 birds in 1970 to an estimated 265,000 birds in 2015, and has been restored to every county in the state.
Hunting and fishing have a huge impact on the state’s economy. According to the North Carolina Outdoor Industry Association, more than half of North Carolina residents participate in outdoor recreation each year, generating $28 billion for the economy.
Most important of all, for many North Carolinians hunting is a family sport that brings them closer to nature, closer to each other, and closer to their food sources. When children learn where their food comes from, they appreciate it more. They learn to respect the animals and the land.
Voting to support the right to hunt and fish amendment will ensure families can continue to create these memories for generations to come.
Cathy Wright, a volunteer FrontLines Activist Leader for the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, lives in Chapel Hill.