On April 24, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus member Governor Jim Justice signed Senate Bill 345 into law. Sponsored by West Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Mark Maynard, SB 345 will legalize Sunday hunting statewide on private lands with written permission of the landowner. Prior to the passage of SB 345, Sunday hunting on private lands was regulated on a county-by-county basis with Sunday hunting permitted in only 33 of West Virginia’s 55 counties.
Senator Mark Maynard said, “This legislation is a great step forward to increasing access for hunters and is especially important for hardworking families and youth with limited weekend hunting opportunities.”
Expanding Sunday hunting opportunities is critical to supporting West Virginia’s sporting heritage. Reducing barriers to hunting increases access for sportsmen and women, supporting hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation efforts. Additionally, hunting is vitally important for conservation funding in the state as the sale of hunting licenses and hunting related equipment supports a range of conservation initiatives, including public land acquisitions, habitat improvements and wildlife management programs.
Increased opportunities for hunting also benefits local communities across the state where West Virginia’s 477,000 sportsmen and women currently support more than 12,500 jobs in the state.
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?