Legislation to expand Sunday hunting opportunities in West Virginia has passed both legislative chambers and is expected to be signed into law by Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus member Governor Jim Justice.
Senate Bill 345, sponsored by West Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Mark Maynard, legalizes Sunday hunting statewide on private lands with the written permission of the landowner.
Senate Bill 345 was passed on March 1 with a 26-6 vote. Technical amendments to the bill were adopted by the House in early April, and the House voted 94-5 to pass the bill on April 6. The Senate concurred in the House amendments the following day, and the bill is currently awaiting the Governor’s signature.
Sen. Maynard said, “It was an honor to work with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources to enact legislation that will promote tourism and double the number of days the working man has to hunt.”
In 2002, the Sunday hunting ban was repealed by the West Virginia Legislature. Counties, however, were given the option to prohibit Sunday hunting within their jurisdictions, and 41 counties subsequently adopted Sunday hunting bans. Over time, counties approved Sunday hunting ban repeals by voter referendum, and after the November 2016 elections, 33 of West Virginia’s 55 counties permitted private lands Sunday hunting.
Senate Bill 345 was a priority for the West Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, the Sunday Hunting Coalition and many in-state sportsmen’s groups. Increasing hunter access by expanding Sunday hunting opportunities is important to support hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation and conservation funding.
Thirty-nine states, including adjacent states Kentucky and Ohio, have no restrictions against Sunday hunting. If Sunday hunting were permitted on private and publics lands in the Mountain State, the estimated economic impact to the state would be more than 2,600 jobs and over $155 million in total economic output.
More than 12,500 jobs in the state are supported by West Virginia’s 477,000 sportsmen and women.
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?