Why It Matters: Signed into law by Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Jim Justice, legislation to allow additional game species to be tracked with dogs when mortally wounded and legislation to authorize the use of a new muzzleloader product furthers ethical hunting practices and increases hunting opportunities for the Mountain State’s sportsmen and women who contribute significantly to the state’s economy.
- While numerous pro-sportsmen’s bills covering topics from conservation funding to predator management were introduced during the 2022 regular legislative session, two bills signed into law in March that expand opportunities for hunters are particularly noteworthy.
- Senate Bill 200, sponsored by West Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Bill Hamilton, adds mortally wounded elk, turkey, and wild boar to the list of wounded game that may be tracked and located using a leashed dog.
- House Bill 3122 legalizes a single shot muzzleloader that uses an encapsulated propellant charge that loads from the breech during any muzzleloader season except the Mountain Heritage season.
Senate Bill 200 expands on legislation passed in 2020 that allowed the use of leashed dogs to track and locate mortally wounded deer or beer. Allowed in 41 states, blood tracking increases the chance of recovering game which is central to ethical hunting. Hunters are allowed to use a dog handler to track and locate the mortally wounded animal. Additionally, any hunter who is physically unable to accompany the handle in the tracking and locating of the mortally wounded deer, elk, wild turkey, wild boar, or bear may designate the handler to dispatch the animal when located by the handler.
House Bill 3122 authorizes for hunting during muzzleloader seasons, except the Mountain Heritage season in January which is limited to primitive-style weapons, the use of a single shot muzzleloading pistol or rifle that uses an encapsulated propellant charge that loads from the breech, with the projective loaded from the muzzle, during any established muzzleloader season. New muzzleloading technology, like the FireStick muzzleloader, increases opportunities for hunters by allowing the use of new breech-charging muzzleloader products that are safe and reliable while not changing the characteristics of muzzleloader seasons. Projectiles are still loaded from the muzzle, only one projectile can be loaded at a time, and effective ranges are similar to muzzleloaders previously allowed.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation worked with the West Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and in-state and national conservation partners to support these bills.