Public hearing held on right to fish, hunt, harvest and gather

The Oregon House Committee on Rules on Feb. 2 held a public hearing on House Joint Resolution 5, which proposes an amendment to the Oregon Constitution to protect the right of the people to fish, hunt, harvest and gather.

If passed by the Legislature, the proposed amendment would be referred to voters to consider on the 2024 November ballot.

The resolution was introduced by Oregon Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator David Brock Smith (R-Port Orford), and if passed by the legislature and voters, would make Oregon the 24th state to have a right to hunt and fish constitutional amendment.

“Oregonians, who have long prioritized a strong connection with their food sources, should have the ability to vote this type of protection into the state constitution,” Smith said. “The ability of Oregonians to supplement their diets with wild and foraged foods is an integral part of our self-reliant heritage.”

If passed, the Right to Fish, Hunt, Harvest and Gather would only protect against an outright ban on these methods of food procurement, and does not circumvent wildlife management, private and public property rights, or the conservation goals of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“There is currently an initiative petition that has been filed for the 2024 ballot that would ban Oregonians’ ability to procure healthy and local food through fishing and hunting,” said Keely Hopkins, the Pacific States Manager of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “HJR 5 is an important counterpoint to those efforts by providing voters the opportunity to protect Oregonians’ ability to harvest and gather organic, sustainable foods for ourselves and our families, while also contributing to conservation efforts through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses.”

HJR 5 is supported by a broad, diverse group of organizations representing Oregonians from around the state. Oregon Hunters Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Oregon Anglers Alliance, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Delta Waterfowl, Advocates for Sustainable Animal Populations, Oregon State Shooting Association, Oregon Associations of Ranges, Oregon Wild Sheep Foundation, Fur Takers of America, HOWL for Wildlife, National Wild Turkey Federation, Safari Club International, Oregon Trappers Association, and the Oregon Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, amongst others, have all unified in support of the resolution.

“The Oregon Hunters Association represents the interests of Oregon’s 940,000 sportsmen and women from all parts of the state,” said Amy Patrick, policy director for the organization. “Our members regularly utilize fishing, hunting, harvesting, and gathering to supplement their food sources and provide natural, healthy foods for their families.”