A review of the upcoming issues that the Florida Legislature will deal with when it convenes next week includes a proposed constitutional amendment submitted by Sen Jason Brodeur, R-Lake Mary, that would enshrine the right to hunt and fish into that document if legislators agree to put it on the 2024 ballot and if voters approve.
This was a head-scratcher at first, but a little research was enlightening.
It seems this is part of a trend in a number of states in recent years—Vermont passed a measure to this effect in 1777, but no other state bothered to raise the issue until Alabama did so in 1996—to enact such a measure.
Since then, voters in 23 states have enacted similar measures.
It seems to be a reaction to efforts by animal rights advocates, who are sometimes falsely portrayed in media reports as environmentalists, to limit hunting and to deal with the fact that population growth, urban sprawl and changing demographics in many states have reduced the amount of land available for hunting and that hunters comprise a much smaller part of the population than in earlier times and feel threatened.
There actually was a proposed measure that never made it to the Florida ballot a couple of years ago that proposed to ban hunting of “iconic species.”
It was actually an attempt to prohibit Florida black bear hunting, which was approved in 2016 for a single season and may be on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s agenda in the near future. The other species on the ballot measure’s list, such as red-cockaded woodpeckers and Florida manatees, had been protected species for decades or were never game species in the first place.
There is already an active campaign to oppose further bear hunting in Florida and this proposed constitutional amendment may have been filed in response to it or filed simply to make Florida’s constitution consistent with those in the other states in the Southeast that have already approved similar measures.