By Brett Stayton, Mid-Atlantic States Coordinator
On May 3, Senator Bruce Ennis, Co-Chair of the Delaware Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, introduced SB 198, a bill to expand Sunday hunting opportunities for white-tailed deer, with support from several other Caucus members and conservation groups throughout the state.
In 2016, the Delaware General Assembly passed legislation that lifted the prohibition of Sunday hunting for deer in the state and opened up five specific Sundays for hunting throughout the season on private lands and on select areas of public land regulated by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). The current allotment of Sunday hunting opportunities only allows for muzzleloader and shotgun hunting, while the new legislation would open up all Sundays during archery season and some additional Sundays during shotgun and muzzleloader season.
“Hunters are the fabric of many of Delaware’s families and communities, and they play a critical role in conservation for our state. But outdated laws prevent them from the simple, beneficial activity of going out and hunting deer on Sundays. I’m sponsoring Senate Bill 198 so that we can update that law for the benefit of our families and our environment,” said Sen. Ennis.
If enacted, SB 198 would eliminate present restrictions on private-land deer hunting on Sundays while also granting the DNREC the authority to regulate additional Sunday hunting opportunities on public lands throughout the state.
“The Delaware Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus is happy to work with Governor Carney on this measure to provide additional hunting opportunities,” said Caucus Co-Chair, Representative Jeff Spiegleman. “This will provide additional hunting opportunities while also aiding in the management of the state’s deer herd, which can sometimes negatively impact the livelihoods of Delaware’s farmers. There is a delicate balance between the hunting and agriculture communities, but this legislation is something upon which they both can agree.”
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?