VOLUME 7 - 2014-2015 - ISSUE 2

7 Ky. J. Equine, Agric. & Nat. Resources L. 351 (2015).


Note Written By: Young-Eun Park

With the passage of an amendment, Kentucky became one of four states that recognize a constitutional right to hunt and fish in 2012, joining Idaho, Nebraska, and Wyoming. Fervor for the recent amendments stems from "worries that hunting will one day be banned or restricted" since animal rights groups have been relatively successful in efforts to curtail some hunting practices over the past few decades. Many states, including Kentucky, passed amendments in response to these events that made hunting and fishing a constitutional right because "state constitutionalization" would make any attempts at banning hunting more difficult, as it would require a constitutional amendment." In other words, a ban on hunting and fishing "couldn't be done without a vote of the people."

While these amendments were instituted with good intentions, a right to hunt and fish has no place in Kentucky's Constitution, a document of the Commonwealth's most fundamental rights. Instead, hunting and fishing rights should be left to legislative regulation. Section II of this Note will provide background on federal and state precedents and general history regarding the constitutional right, or lack thereof, to hunt and fish. Section III describes the original purpose of the constitutional provision and argues that its original purpose no longer comports with modern society's view of wildlife. Section IV argues that "right to hunt" amendments actually cannot change already existing laws. Section V then looks specifically at Kentucky's constitutional amendment and contends that it was passed in response to a nonexistent problem and is unnecessary. Section VI argues that hunting and fishing are recreational rights that do not belong in the Kentucky Constitution. Section VII proposes a solution that allows the right to hunt and fish to be included either in statutes or in a broader constitutional amendment. Section VIII concludes by urging for the repeal of Kentucky's hunting and fishing amendment and the cease of future related amendments in other states.