Contact: John Culclasure, Southeastern States Assistant Director
Why It Matters: Senate Bill 8 is the fourth public lands Sunday hunting bill introduced in three years. The legislation passed the Senate 29-11 on January 24, and the Committee and House of Delegates were the final hurdles before the bill could be sent to the Governor’s desk. The three other Sunday hunting bills (House Bill 1632 in 2020, House Bill 199 in 2021, and House Bill 111 in 2022) never advanced past the Committee.
Prior to the March 2 Sub-Committee’s and subsequently the Committee’s consideration of Senate Bill 8, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and national and in-state sportsmen’s group submitted a letter to Committee members strongly supporting the legislation. The letter expressed the hunting conservation community’s unified support for passing Senate Bill 8, priority legislation that would largely repeal Virginia’s antiquated prohibition against Sunday hunting on public lands.
The letter pointed out that the bill would support Virginia’s economy, support conservation funding for the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, and support hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation efforts in addition to noting that every state adjacent to Virginia allows public land Sunday hunting.
At the Sub-Committee hearing, representatives from CSF, Delta Waterfowl, Safari Club International, Virginia Bowhunters Association, and the Virginia Public Lands Hunters and Fisherman Facebook group testified in support of the bill.
Following the bill reporting out of the Committee, CSF and 15 partners submitted a letter to the House of Delegates, and CSF and partners also worked together to generate grassroots support.
CSF would like to thank the Delegates that supported the bill, and CSF would especially like to thank Senator Chap Petersen and Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Delegate James Edmunds for their continued leadership on this issue.
CSF will continue to support the bill in conjunction with partners in the Virginia sportsmen’s community to hopefully see the bill signed into law. The legislation is a major victory for Virginia’s hunters that rely on public land for hunting access as more than 2 million acres of public land would be open to Sunday hunting for the first time in Virginia’s history.
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?