SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Is hunting and fishing a constitutional right? That’s a question state lawmakers are having to answer with a proposal at this year’s legislative session. A handful of state lawmakers are proposing an amendment to the state constitution to formally protect the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife.
“There’s not much to explain, as a hunting and fishing and sporting community would love to see this in our constitution and ensure the right of citizens of New Mexico for all the years to come,” said Representative Alonzo Baldonado (R-Valencia County).
House Joint Resolution 8, introduced by Rep. Baldonado, is asking to add this right to Article 2 of the state constitution. Under the “harvesting of wildlife,” in general, would be protected as it still honors trespass laws or property rights. That would assumably include trapping which has long been controversial.
Democrats and animal rights groups have long tried to outlaw trapping in the state but have been unsuccessful with many arguing that it is a way of life for many New Mexicans that dates back generations. Hunting and fishing have been less controversial but hunters and anglers say they find themselves in a fight to gain access to public lands to do so.
Many people spoke out against the bill saying it could impact access to New Mexico’s streams, which are public. Rep. Baldonado’s bill was one of two hunting rights bills debated Tuesday in a House committee but both bills were tabled. Another anti-trapping bill has been introduced this session in the Senate calling for an end to the practice on public lands.