Contact: John Culclasure, Southeastern States Director
Why It Matters: Sunday hunting restrictions are Blue Laws with no basis in wildlife management that restrict only one user-group, hunters, from accessing public lands on Sundays. Repealing Sunday hunting restrictions has been a top priority for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), the Sunday Hunting Coalition, and in-state partners, and Senate Bill 8’s enactment marks the culmination of years of work to increase access for hunters in the Commonwealth.
Sponsored by Senator Chap Petersen, Senate Bill 8 was the fourth public lands Sunday hunting introduced in Virginia over a three-year period. Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Delegate James Edmunds patroned the other three bills and was instrumental in the advancement of Senate Bill 8 in the House of Delegates. CSF is tremendously grateful for the leadership of both Senator Petersen and Delegate Edmunds.
Lands open to Sunday hunting this fall include: the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) Wildlife Management Areas with exceptions for dove and waterfowl hunts, many Department of Forestry State Forests, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers John W. Flannagan Reservoir and Philpott Lake. For additional information, please refer to the information provided by the DWR.
Many of the properties available to Sunday hunting have been purchased and/or are managed with sportsmen-generated dollars through the “user pays – public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding. It is anticipated that the removal of the barrier to hunt seven days a week on public lands will support hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation efforts in the Commonwealth.
South Carolina is now the only Southern state with an outright prohibition against Sunday hunting on public lands. While legislation to allow Sunday hunting on Wildlife Management Areas passed the South Carolina House of Representative this session, the bill stalled in the Senate. CSF continues to work to repeal the antiquated prohibition against seven-day hunting on public lands in the Palmetto State to support South Carolina’s outdoor heritage and to bring South Carolina in line with the rest of the South.
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?