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Sportsman harassment- Know your rights (8/9/2002)

Anti-hunters who disrupt legal hunting and angling activities are breaking the law. It is hunter harassment and it is illegal in all fifty states.

Animal rights fanatics have been known to create disturbances to try to prevent sportsmen from enjoying a day in the field or on the water. They have followed hunters into the woods, honked car horns and played loud music near hunting areas and thrown rocks at fishing lines to disrupt sportsmenís activities. One animal advocate, Steve Hindi, went so far as to fly a paraglider amid a flock of geese to disrupt a hunt.

How can people get away with these actions? They canít. Every state has some form of hunter harassment law in place, which was designed to prevent anti-hunting activists from using protests to disrupt lawful hunting. These laws are modeled after draft legislation created by the U.S. Sportsmenís Alliance in the 1980s. The people who committed the crimes previously mentioned have had to pay fines, do community service and even serve jail time.

Trying to get around the law-

Anti-hunters abhor hunter harassment laws. The antiís have challenged the laws in court numerous times in the last decade, claiming that they infringe on the first amendment right to free speech and assembly. Despite repeated challenges, the laws remain steadfast and sportsmen remain protected.

A recent challenge resulted in a 5-0 ruling by the Connecticut Supreme Court in May, again favoring sportsmen. It said that the law does not infringe on the rights to free speech and assembly because forests where hunting is allowed are not intended for public assembly and do not contain facilities for public interaction. Chief Justice William Sullivan said the anti-hunters have their speech restricted "only to the degree necessary to prevent interference with taking game."

What should you do?

What if this happened to you? Are you ready to come face to face with an anti-hunter while youíre in the field? Do you know how to handle yourself? Here are some important tips to remember:

Report the incident to the authorities as soon as possible;

Have an accurate description of the protestor, license plate number and vehicle identification;

Remain calm and rational;

Be prepared to file harassment charges;

Remember that any law officer can enforce this law.

Copyright”  U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance- www.ussportsmen.org

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