Back in 1946, the Tennessee Conservation League was formed to combat the growing impact of politics on wildlife and habitat. That organization became the Tennessee Wildlife Federation, and we’d like to think our founding fathers would be proud of the way we’ve fought to preserve our natural resources on behalf of Tennesseans who love to hunt, fish, paddle, hike, watch wildlife and enjoy our Great Outdoors
Following are highlights of important issues we’ve tackled over the last decade. You can also click here to learn more about our history.
THE RIGHT TO HUNT AND FISH: AN AMENDMENT TO THE TENNESSEE CONSTITUTION
All the way back to Ancient Rome, democratic societies have recognized the individual right to hunt and fish. But during the Norman Conquest in England, a landowner could be put to death for hunting or fishing on his own property. On Bastille Day, the French go fishing to celebrate their independence – the inability to do so was a central issue that led to the revolution in 1789.
Benjamin Franklin and his Pennsylvania delegation brought a right to hunt and fish to the United States Constitutional Convention, but it was deemed unnecessary in such a free new world. Nevertheless, Vermont included the provision in its state constitution, ratified in 1777. States like Rhode Island and California followed suit through the 19th and early 20th centuries, and today, 17 state constitutions include the right.
In 2004, the Tennessee Wildlife Federation began the arduous process of securing a public referendum on the issue. After negotiating language that would pass constitutional muster and gain the support of appropriate stakeholders, the bill needed to pass with super-majority margins in two consecutive sessions of the Tennessee General Assembly.
TWF orchestrated an effective grassroots campaign—on a shoestring budget—to ensure the passage of the amendment.
In November of 2010, the measure appeared on the ballot of the statewide general election. In order to be ratified, it had to gain more than 50 percent of the votes cast in the gubernatorial election.
The voters of Tennessee approved the amendment by a 90 percent margin, shattering the previous record for a statewide referendum by 17 percent.
The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission recently passed a limited sandhill crane season.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, with support from TWF CEO Mike Butler, left, spoke at a spring 2013 press conference related to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to restrict tailwaters fishing in Tennessee. The USACE legislation was rejected.
TWF is part of a Memorandum of Understanding initiated by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency that is taking aggressive measures to stop the epidemic of feral hog population growth across Tennessee.
Legislation to support deer farming has recently reared its ugly head in Tennessee.