(The Center Square) – Two Ohio lawmakers worried hunting and fishing abilities could be stripped in the state want the rights enshrined in the state’s constitution.
Reps. Ron Ferguson, R-Wintersville, and Nick Santucci, R-Howland Township, want the House and Senate to pass joint resolutions to amend the state’s constitution to establish a constitutional right to hunt and fish.
If passed, the two want the question on the 2024 November general election ballot.
“Hunting and fishing are more than just recreational activities – they’re deeply rooted in our country’s heritage. Despite this history, many states have taken a proactive approach in ensuring these activities are protected for future generations,” Ferguson told the House Joint Resolution Committee during the proposal’s first hearing.
As of January, 23 states added the right to hunt and fish to their constitutions, according to Ballotpedia. The first was Vermont in 1777. The rest came after 1996.
Ferguson also raised concerns about what he called anti-hunting legislation across the country in Oregon, California, Colorado and New Jersey.
A group in Colorado is trying to gather enough signatures for a ballot initiative to ban the hunting of mountain lions.
In Oregon, an effort has been ongoing since 2022 to propose an amendment prohibiting animal injury or killing. It has reached the signature collection stage and could be on the ballot in 2024.
New Jersey is taking a third swing at a bill prohibiting the harassing or taking of certain wildlife at a competitive event.
Santucci told the committee the right to hunt and fish needs to be protected in the state and pointed to its economic impact.
“Hunting and fishing in the state of Ohio serve not only as recreational activities but as significant revenue sources for our state economy – $866 million was spent in 2020 on hunting-related purchases by 479,000 hunters in Ohio,” Santucci said. “The economic impact of hunting in our state has translated to 15,500 jobs for Ohioans, which produced $753 million to the state GDP and $68 million in state and local tax revenue. Overall, hunting contributed $1.3 billion in 2020 to Ohio’s economy.”
A second hearing on the resolution has yet to be scheduled.