If passed, Proposition 109 will endanger rather than guarantee the rights of Arizona citizens to lawfully hunt and fish.
The proposed constitutional amendment promises rights we already have: the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife lawfully and prohibition of laws that unreasonably restrict those activities. It also puts forth the idea that hunting and fishing is the preferred way to manage and control wildlife, a principle that has guided state wildlife conservation for the past 80 years.
New to the proposed law is the provision granting the Legislature the exclusive authority to regulate the manner, methods or seasons for hunting, fishing, and harvesting wildlife. Today, that is primarily the job of the Arizona Game and Fish Department with legislative oversight.
The Game and Fish Department's "wheel" needs no reinventing. It is self-sustaining funding without state general revenue funds; effective wildlife conservation and habitat preservation; creation of recreational hunting and fishing opportunities; and high-quality statewide conservation education.
A conservation-oriented attorney notes that the language of Proposition 109 is so vague that no one knows what the Legislature would do with its newfound control over hunting and fishing.
With no obligation to continue the regulation policies currently in place, legislative management could result in the potential return to the unsafe and poor sporting practices of trapping, poisoning, or hunting game from aircraft.
The Legislature has enough on its plate without the added burden of determining whether to extend turkey season.
No on Proposition 109 is the best way to preserve hunting and fishing rights in Arizona.
Kurt Wildermuth is a member of the editorial advisory board and a partner and associate broker with United Country Northern Arizona Realty.