COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Some state lawmakers want to put the right to hunt and fish in the state’s constitution.  

Reps. Ron Ferguson (R-Wintersville) and Nick Santucci (R-Howland Township) introduced House Joint Resolution 5, calling it a proactive step to ensure the right to hunt and fish is never jeopardized in the state.

“We have a long legacy of hunting and fishing, we think it’s an important part of wildlife conservation and we want to make sure it’s protected here in the state of Ohio,” Ferguson said.  

HJR5 has the support of 18 other House Republicans and one House Democrat. The proposal states, “The right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife is a valued part of Ohio’s heritage and will forever be preserved for the public good.” The amendment also lays out that nothing “limits the application of any current laws or provisions in the constitution as they relate to trespass or property rights.” 

Overall, the amendment would establish a constitutional right to “hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife that are traditionally pursued (including the right to use traditional methods).”

The bill had its first committee hearing Wednesday morning and received pushback from some committee members who worry about the language, saying “traditional” should be defined within the amendment.  

“I think some people are kind of stretching, to not know traditional methods are and certainly sometimes people try to poke holes where there’s not something to poke holes,” Ferguson said. “And I think the language is pretty airtight as it is.” 

Other committee members pushed back on the resolution and said no one has ever threatened the right to hunt and fish in the state and questioned the need for such an amendment.   

“I don’t think that concern’s current,” Ferguson said. “But if we look around to other states, you look to states like Oregon and there are concerns that there is going to be the loss to the right to hunt and we want to make sure we are being proactive, not reactive.” 

The resolution’s sponsors said their goal is to have this on the ballot by November 2024. It would need to pass the statehouse 90 days before the election to do that, with 2/3 votes in both the House and Senate.  

HJR5 is being heard in the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.