Sportsmen need to support Proposition 109

Now that the primary election is over, it's time for sportsmen to focus on supporting what may be the most important piece of legislation that we will vote on this year.

It is called Prop 109 and what it will do if passed is amend the Arizona Constitution to make hunting and fishing a right, rather than a privilege. Currently, the ability to hunt and/or fish is a privilege in the Grand Canyon State.

In Arizona, and around the nation, only 10 percent of the general population hunts or fishes. There is another 10 percent who are rabid anti-hunters or anti-anglers, folks who adamantly believe that nothing in nature should ever be harvested by man.

Then there are the 80 percent of the population who are neither for nor against hunting or fishing. It is these folks who will ultimately decide if our children and grandchildren will be able to choose to hunt or fish in the future.

If passed, Prop 109 will mean that hunting, fishing and the taking of wildlife will be a constitutional right. It will prohibit regulations that would ban the use of traditional methods of take. But of course, like any right, a person could still lose it.

A good example of this is owning a firearm, a right guaranteed under the 2nd Amendment. However, a person can be convicted of a crime and can lose their right to own a firearm.

It is the same with Prop 109. Violate some wildlife laws and a person is subject to losing this right too.

Prop 109 would specify that hunting and fishing and the harvesting of wildlife by the state's sportsmen and women will be the preferred means of managing and controlling the state's wildlife populations.

Hunting and fishing as a right is not a new concept in America. Currently, there are 10 other states that recognize hunting and fishing as a right. Those states include Vermont, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Other states that are looking at making amendments to their state constitutions to make hunting and fishing a right this year include Oklahoma, Arkansas, South Carolina and Tennessee.

A question has been asked, what would happen if Prop 109 does not pass?

According to the Yuma Valley Rod & Gun Club, which has come out in support of Prop 109, "organizations whose goals are to eliminate hunting and fishing will perceive Arizona as weak and uncommitted to the heritage of hunting and fishing.

"These organizations are constantly studying the country looking for weak spots. These are places where they can bring forward an initiative to restrict one form or another of hunting and/or fishing."

The Board of Directors of the Mohave Sportsman Club, the largest outdoor recreational organization in Mohave County, has also come out in support of Prop 109.

The bottom line is that sportsmen will never change the minds of the rabid anti-hunting and anti-fishing groups.

What we can and must do is show the 80 percent of Arizona voters that sportsmen are the preferred way to be used not only to pay for all of wildlife management, which we do now, but we (sportsmen) are also the preferred method to manage wildlife populations.

Hunting and fishing are part of the American heritage, and as such should be preserved.

Management of wildlife populations in Arizona is currently being accomplished by professional wildlife biologists and our state game management agency working in concert with the state's sportsmen. Management should not be based upon emotion.

Sportsmen are the state's real conservationists, and we must continue to show the general public that it is us, and not the antis, who are the ones who pay for wildlife management.

It has been shown time and time again that the antis never spend a dime on managing wildlife or improving wildlife habitat in Arizona. All they ever do is litigate.

We as sportsmen pay for wildlife so that all citizens, not just hunters and anglers, can enjoy them in their own way, whether it is hunting, fishing, photography or sightseeing.

If Prop 109 passes, then future generations will be able to choose to participate in hunting and fishing and will continue to support wildlife management.

In my opinion, it is the right thing to do, and for all the right reasons.

We must ensure that every sportsman or woman goes to the polls and votes in November.

It is not only for our future, but that of our children and grandchildren that we must vote yes on Prop 109.