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Amendment aims to guarantee hunting, fishing 

A proposed bill in the North Carolina legislature aims to make fishing and hunting a constitutional guarantee.

In a 44-4 vote Wednesday, the North Carolina Senate passed legislation that will let voters decide whether to amend the state’s Constitution to protect citizens’ right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife.

Senate Bill 677 is scheduled for a vote in the N.C. House Monday. If the bill passes the House of Representatives and becomes law, voters will consider the constitutional amendment on the November 2018 ballot. Twenty-one other states already guarantee this right in their constitutions.

Sponsored by senators Danny Britt (R-Robeson), Norman Sanderson (R-Pamlico) and Tom McInnis (R-Richmond), the bill appears to have bipartisan support.

“A constitutional amendment is necessary to protect the heritage of hunting and fishing in our state because there are forces that lobby every day to restrict the right to hunt and fish,” McInnis said. “ This bill is not about the past but about protecting the right for future generations and I expect it to pass the House easily as it did in the senate.”

Hunting and fishing are integral parts of North Carolina’s heritage, economy and conservation efforts.  According to the most recent data available, North Carolina sportsmen and women spent $2.3 billion on hunting and fishing in North Carolina in 2011, generating $249 million in revenue and supporting more than 35,000 local jobs. The state issued 1.87 million hunting and fishing licenses in 2016 alone, Senator Phil Berger, (R-Rockingham), president pro tem, submitted in a press release.

“North Carolinians deserve to have their voices heard when it comes to protecting the hunting and fishing rights that have always been part of our heritage and way of life,” the bill’s sponsors issued  in a joint statement. “We’re confident voters will agree that this amendment will help ensure North Carolina remains a sportsman’s paradise for future generations.”

Contact Ritchie Starnes at 704-754-5076 or ritchie.starnes@stanlynewspress.com.