Under current Oklahoma law, it is generally illegal to harass, chase, capture, or kill wildlife with the aid of any motor driven vehicle. There are exceptions, but this is fairly clear to most hunters. So as to not mistakenly sweep up electric wheelchairs into the prohibition, Oklahoma law allows a person unable to walk to obtain permission to hunt from their motorized chair.
House Bill 1485 appeared at first sight to be a good bill which would clear up some language regarding this issue and ultimately make it easier for certain disabled Oklahomans to hunt. As I dug further I realized the bill will actually cost them more. Under the current system, a non-ambulatory person may obtain a permit free of charge which is to be renewed every five years. But House Bill 1485 would allow Oklahoma to charge the physically disabled up to $20 every five years.
This might not seem like an unreasonable fee, but ask yourself, should a person have to pay extra to hunt just because they require a motorized vehicle to move? The government already requires the non-ambulatory to obtain an extra permit and now they seek to pass a law which will charge them to hunt from their wheelchair. Some may point to how one is able to obtain a “disability license” at a reduced rate, but the rules exclude many who are confined to motorized wheelchairs.
Oklahomans are living longer and more of us will be spending additional years confined to a wheelchair, so you can bet there will be growing numbers of physically disabled hunters. This is a government money grab. Not a large scale grab, but it’s a way for government to take in more dollars. Perhaps they should drop the extra permit required if they cannot sustain this permit process without charging an extra fee to those who can’t walk. Current Oklahoma law already allows those legitimately confined to hunt from motorized wheelchairs. The game warden already has the authority to enforce all Oklahoma hunting laws. Therefore, we already have a legal way to prevent cheaters from hunting from motorized wheelchairs. The extra permit is not even needed and an extra fee is certainly not warranted. Unfortunately, HB1485 regulates the disabled and grows the size of government.