Legislation to expand Sunday hunting opportunities in West Virginia cleared the first major hurdle recently. Senate Bill 345, sponsored by West Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Mark Maynard, passed the Senate on March 1 with a 26-6 vote. If enacted, Sunday hunting would be legal on private lands statewide with the written consent of the landowner.
Sunday hunting on private lands only with written permission of the landowner is presently permitted in 33 of West Virginia’s 55 counties. Voters in 11 counties approved Sunday hunting in November 2016, and Senate Bill 345 builds on the growing sentiment in the state that landowners should be given the option to choose whether to allow Sunday hunting on their private property. Neighboring states Kentucky and Ohio have no restrictions on Sunday hunting, and Sunday hunting is legal in Virginia on private lands with the written permission of the landowner.
Originating as “Blue Laws,” Sunday hunting restrictions are on the books in various forms in 11 states. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, as a member of the Sunday Hunting Coalition, works to remove Sunday hunting restrictions which negatively affect hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation and, in turn, conservation funding. Sunday hunting advancements have recently been made in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia.
West Virginia’s 477,000 sportsmen and women support more than 12,500 jobs in the state and contribute more than $1.1 billion to the state’s economy.
Senate Bill 345 is currently under consideration in the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.
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?