Sunday hunting was on the ballot in 11 West Virginia counties this November, and voters overwhelmingly approved Sunday hunting in all 11 counties. The slimmest margin of victory was 55 percent in Barbour County, but many counties approved the measure by wider margins, including 73 percent in Monongalia County. Cumulatively, 188,455 voters (66.7 percent) supported Sunday hunting in the 11 counties.
Sunday hunting on private lands only with written permission of the landowner will now be permitted in 33 of West Virginia’s 55 counties, including Kanawha County – the most populous county in the state. The other counties that approved Sunday hunting are Barbour, Berkley, Harrison, Marion, Mercer, Monongalia, Pleasants, Preston, Richie, and Wood.
As a member of the Sunday Hunting Coalition, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation works to remove state restrictions on Sunday hunting. These restrictions originated as “Blue Laws” and negatively affect hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation and conservation funding. Although 11 states currently restrict hunting on Sunday, recent advancements to expand seven-day hunting opportunities have been made in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia.
Sunday hunting is a priority for the West Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, and Sunday hunting advocates believe the results of the elections bode well for future legislative efforts to ease Sunday hunting restrictions in the Mountain State. The neighboring states of Kentucky and Ohio have no restrictions against Sunday hunting and many West Virginians travel out of state to hunt. The estimated economic impact to West Virginia of allowing Sunday hunting on private and public lands is more than 2,600 jobs and over $155 million in total economic output.
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?