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VOL. 123 | NO. 42 | Friday, February 29, 2008

Proposed Tenn. Constitutional Amendment on Hunting Heads Back to House

By ERIK SCHELZIG | Associated Press Writer

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NASHVILLE (AP) - A proposal to create constitutional protections for hunting in Tennessee is headed back to the House after the Senate passed a slightly changed version.

The Senate voted unanimously Thursday for a version that added protections for so-called traditional hunting methods as long as they target non-threatened species.

Even if the House agrees with the change, the measure still would have to pass both chambers by a two-thirds majority during the next two-year session before it could go before voters in 2010.

Rep. Joe McCord, R-Maryville and the proposal's main sponsor, said the original motivation for trying to write hunting rights into the constitution was in response to laws passed in Britain to stop hunting with dogs.

"Each year there are more and more bills that are filed dealing with hunting issues," McCord said. "They don't pass in Tennessee - you know, the Southeast is kind of a bastion that has held back all those."

McCord said examples of the traditional hunting referred to in the Senate version include "such things as bow hunting, hound hunting and using bird dogs or coon hounds."

Sen. Doug Jackson, D-Dickson and the Senate sponsor of the bill, said on the Senate floor that the amendment would protect hunters against what he called the "misguided judgment" of organizations like the Humane Society of the United States, which he said advocate for an outright ban on hunting.

But Leighann McCollum, the organization's Tennessee director, said that the Humane Society is not working toward an overall ban.

"Our efforts are focused on the practices that we consider the most egregious," she said. "Like canned hunts, baiting and wildlife penning."

McCollum said that the organization is not working against the proposal.

"They're not giving anybody a right they don't already have," she said. "And we are not out there trying to ban hunting, that's the bottom line."

Read HJR0108 on the General Assembly's Web site at: http://www.legislature.state.tn.us

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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