Here are my initial thoughts following Election Day as we all-American hunters work to protect our wildlife conservation model and hunting heritage.
North Carolina’s Right to Hunt and Fish Amendment
Animal-rights and environmental extremist organizations spent over $1.2 million to sink the Right to Hunt and Fish amendment in North Carolina, but they lost decisively with 57 percent of voters supporting it. The ballot measure, which establishes a constitutional right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife for the people of North Carolina, was widely criticized by mainstream media and groups like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) as unnecessary and a “ploy to get Republicans to come out to vote.” The measure also declares that hunting and fishing are the preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife in the state. While these activities are commonplace statewide, the key is to head off future attempts by anti-hunting extremist groups such as the HSUS and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in their push to end all hunting.
"The NRA has been the leading force in protecting the rich hunting and conservation heritage that will blanket America for generations to come," said Lacey Biles, managing director of NRA-ILA State and Local Affairs. “Sportsmen in North Carolina now have the constitutional protection in place that nearly half of the country has adopted.”
North Carolina joins 21 other states that have passed similar amendments to protect the hunting traditions that have been the cornerstone of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation for generations. Preserving these rights with constitutional protections is an important first step and a model piece of legislation that remaining states could adapt for their own wildlife management policies. We American hunters look forward to hearing which states will be up next.
Conservationists in the U.S. Senate
Senate conservatives won a decisive victory in many Democrat-held states such as Indiana and Missouri and, as of this writing, expected but unconfirmed wins in states such as Mississippi and Arizona, expanding the U.S. Senate Majority for Republicans for only one of four times in history. This expanded majority will have huge implications over the next two years as the judicial confirmation train keeps rolling for President Trump, giving him an opportunity to appoint and confirm new jurists and possibly another Supreme Court justice—all people who will have a say over how America handles wildlife conservation and hunting issues into the future.
North Dakota Democrats
Incumbent Sen. Heidi Heitkamp lost by a resounding 11 points to Republican challenger Kevin Cramer. Heitkamp, readers may remember, was embroiled in a controversy just days before Election Day after doubling down on controversial claims by the state Democrat party that hunters may lose their hunting licenses for voting in the midterm elections.
As I covered for this website earlier this week, Facebook—due to intense pressure from the National Rifle Association and hunters nationwide—pulled the fraudulent claims propagated on a pop-up Facebook page paid for by the North Dakota Democratic-NPL (which, stands for Nonpartisan League, a party organized in 1915 by the founder of the American Socialist Party) telling hunters they “may not want to vote” in the midterms because they could lose their hunting licenses in other states. The claim was later debunked by North Dakota Game and Fish Department licensing officials including Randy Meissner, the agency’s licensing manager, and widely panned by pundits as an embarrassing flop that angered state sportsmen.
New Jersey Anti-Hunting Activists
October was a rough month overall for the avowed anti-bear-hunt coalition in New Jersey. Not only did the bear hunt go on as planned—resulting in the arrests of three of their activists at protests—but a series of embarrassing controversies has plagued the groups all month.
First, during a press conference, the “BEAR Group” made the outrageous claim that hunters had been capturing live bears and storing them in their basements in preparation of hunting season, when they could be harvested and brought to a check station. The claim was debunked in the media.
Sportsmen, gun owners and conservationists across the country have had a big week in conservation policy. Our collective community has a responsibility to uphold the future of our traditions and the best way we can do that is to remain a politically active and engaged constituency that beats our opponents at the ballot box—where it matters.
About the author:Cody McLaughlin is a noted conservationist and conservative thought leader on the public policy issues of hunting, fishing, gun rights, free-market tax and wage policy and the environment. He currently works as a GOP consultant for conservative political causes, managing clients’ digital communications and online presence and as a trustee of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance – managing communications and representing NJ’s 1.2 million sportsmen in the political arena.