Kentucky voters to consider hunting and fishing amendment

By Matthew Rand | 

HINDMAN, Ky. (WYMT) - Hunting and fishing are a tradition for many in Eastern Kentucky, but a constitutional amendment on the ballot this November could make the state's support of hunting and fishing official.

Surrounding states, including Tennessee, have passed similar measures in recent years.

State wildlife officials say the amendment would preserve the heritage of hunting and fishing in Kentucky.

"It's just to prop it up, to preserve it from here on out, because our young kids, myself, and a lot of other people depend and enjoy the great outdoors," said Voncel Thacker of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Officials say Eastern Kentucky has thriving populations of deer, elk, and other game.

They say hunting is important to maintaining a healthy herd.

"Here in the eastern part of the state, we do not have predators for our elk population, there are no natural predators such as mountain lion or whatever that they do have in the west," said Thacker.

People in the hunting business say the sport is creating financial opportunities amidst an economic downturn.

"This year has been extremely well, it seems like every year we go up in numbers," said Brandon Thomas, owner of Shady Creek Outfitters in Hindman.

At a time of reduced production of coal and other industries, wildlife officials say hunting continues to be an economic plus for the region.

"It brings a lot of dollars into Eastern Kentucky, from taxidermists, local vendors, gas stations, we've even got a local guy that does horseback tours to see elk," said Thacker.

With hunting and fishing so integral to Kentucky life, officials doubt the amendment will encounter much opposition on election day.

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