By John Culclasure, Central Appalachian States Manager
On February 6, the West Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus hosted a policy meeting at the State Capitol in Charleston. The event provided the opportunity for members of the Caucus, representatives from sportsmen’s groups, and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources to discuss legislation and issues impacting sportsmen and women in the Mountain State. Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation Central Appalachian States Manager John Culclasure planned the breakfast and presented to the group about the economic and conservation funding contributions of sportsmen and women to the state of West Virginia.
West Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs Senator Mark Maynard and Delegate Jason Harshbarger discussed Caucus priority bills moving this session, including legislation to: authorize the use of tracking dogs to recover game (HB 2518 and SB 331), increasing the penalties for poaching by prohibiting the waste of game animals and sport fish (HB 2540 and SB 305), expand hunting opportunities for disabled persons (HB 2715 and SB 332), and expand hunting opportunities for developmentally disabled persons (HB 2791 and SB 389).
West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Director Stephen McDaniel highlighted the agency’s work to improve wildlife habitat on state and federal public lands. Additionally, Cully McCurdy with the National Wild Turkey Federation spoke about cooperative habitat work on National Forests as well as new initiatives to expand forestry and wildlife management technical services to private landowners in the state.
Legislation (SB 448) to exempt the names, addresses and other contact information of license purchasers from public records requests was also discussed.
“The Caucus event was a great opportunity to discuss issues facing West Virginia’s sportsmen’s community, and I’m honored to serve as Co-Chair of the West Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus as we work to protect our sporting traditions for future generations,” said Del. Harshbarger.
The meeting was sponsored by the B.A.S.S. Nation of West Virginia, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and the West Virginia Wildlife Federation.
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?