On February 7, the West Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus hosted a policy breakfast at the State Capitol in Charleston. Fifteen members of the Sportsmen’s Caucus, representatives from in-state sportsmen’s groups, and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources attended the event to discuss policy priorities for sportsmen and women in the Mountain State.
West Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs Senator Mark Maynard and Delegate Rupie Phillips spoke about the significant contributions of sportsmen and women to the state’s economy and highlighted a number of priority bills for the Caucus, including Senate Bill 451, which would remove the prohibition against Sunday hunting on public lands. In 2017, the Caucus worked successfully to legalize Sunday hunting on private lands statewide with written permission of the landowner.
Sen. Maynard said, “The Caucus breakfast was a great opportunity for our state’s sportsmen’s communities [sic] to engage in open dialogue about important conservation issues, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Caucus to advance legislation this session that will further expand access for sportsmen and women in West Virginia.”
Del. Phillips said, “Hunting, fishing, trapping, and recreational shooting are important traditions for West Virginians, and I’m honored to serve as Co-Chair of the West Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus as we work to ensure that our state’s outdoor heritage is protected for future generations.”
Event speakers included Director of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Stephen McDaniel, Cully McCurdy with the National Wild Turkey Federation, and Ed McMinn with the West Virginia Bowhunters Association. In addition to public lands Sunday hunting, other topics discussed included hunting and fishing licenses for nonresident students, legislation to allow the use of blood tracking dogs to recover wounded game, elk reintroduction, National Forest habitat issues, and various conservation and access improvement programs for sportsmen and women.
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) Central Appalachian States Coordinator John Culclasure helped organize the meeting and presented information about the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses protecting outdoor sporting traditions across the country.
The event was sponsored by the National Wild Turkey Federation, the West Virginia Bowhunters Association, and the West Virginia Wildlife Federation. Representatives from the National Rifle Association, the National Shooting Shoots Foundation, and Trout Unlimited also attended the event.
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?