Why It Matters: Predator hunting tournament bans are often the tip of spear for anti-hunting interests to try to gain a foothold in their efforts to curb legal, regulated hunting. To date, eight states have banned hunting tournaments, and it is important for the hunting conservation community to work together to fight back against legislation touted by animal rights groups.
- On January 25, the Natural Resources Subcommittee (Subcommittee) of the Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee discussed legislation (House Bill 1989) that would have banned hunting contests for coyotes and fur-bearing animals.
- After a healthy debate and public testimony, the bill failed to report out of the Subcommittee (3-3).
- This legislation is the second predator hunting contest bill in two years that failed to advance.
- In 2021, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources also considered a similar predator hunting contest ban regulation proposal.
Specifically, House Bill 1989 would have made it unlawful to “organize, sponsor, promote, conduct, participate in, or solicit participation in a contest, organized competition, tournament, or derby in which participants are offered cash, prizes, or other inducements of monetary value to kill coyotes or fur-bearing animals.” Coyotes are defined as a nuisance species, and furbearing animals include beaver, bobcat, fisher, fox, mink, muskrat, opossum, otter, raccoon, skunk, and weasel.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation(CSF) was the only sportsmen’s organization to submit written testimony opposing House Bill 1989, and CSF also testified in person against the legislation. CSF argued that the legislation would reduce hunting opportunities, decrease participation in hunting, and negatively impact conservation funding for the Commonwealth. CSF encouraged the legislature to support policies that expand access and opportunity for Virginians to bolster hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation efforts which in turn supports state-based conservation through the “user pays – public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding.
CSF is grateful that the Subcommittee did not report the bill out, and CSF will continue to oppose legislation that restricts hunting opportunities for Virginia’s sportsmen and women.