Contact: Joe Mullin, Assistant Manager, Northeastern States
Why it Matters: Sunday hunting bans are one of the last remaining examples of the puritanical blue laws, but in recent years, much progress has been made towards the lessening of these restrictions. In Maryland, hunting for all game birds and mammals on Sundays is authorized in select counties, but restrictions remain for much of the state. Removing, and even lessening Sunday hunting prohibitions offers the state a variety of advantages. Legislative efforts that encourage and expand the abilities of hunters, anglers, recreational shooters, and trappers by increasing access and opportunities have the potential to immediately bolster financial support for state fish and wildlife agencies, thus supporting their mission-driven conservation projects.
On February 9, the Maryland House Environment and Transportation Committee held a public hearing on legislation that would expand Sunday hunting opportunities for private property in Somerset County to include all “game bird and game mammal seasons” on each Sunday. If passed, HB143 would afford sportsmen and women increased opportunities to pursue game throughout the year.
Lessening Sunday hunting restrictions will increase access for Maryland’s sporting community by removing a temporal-access barrier to youth and others that work or attend school throughout the week and may be involved in extra-curricular activities on Saturdays. Thus, the reduction of the existing Sunday hunting limitation in Somerset County has the high likelihood of resulting in increased license sales and spending on sporting equipment, resulting in increasing funding for the Department of Natural Resources through increased hunter participation.
Expanding the existing Sunday hunting opportunities in Somerset County would also significantly benefit the economy, particularly in rural areas, by increasing economic output. Maryland’s sportsmen and women are a significant economic force – spending more than $815 million, supporting more than 10,707 jobs, and generating $84 million in state and local taxes.
With regard to the public hearing, CSF submitted a letter of support for HB143, citing the many benefits that the state poses to gain from an expansion of the existing Sunday hunting opportunities in Somerset County. CSF will continue to provide updates on HB143, as well as the many other Sunday hunting bills across the nation, as they are made available.
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?