Contact: John Culclasure, Southeastern States Assistant Director
On January 4, Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Delegate James Edmunds introduced legislation that would permit Sunday hunting on public lands. The legislation is co-sponsored by Delegate Rodney Willett.
Specifically, HB 1799 would expand the exception to the prohibition against hunting or killing any wild bird or wild animal, including nuisance species, with a gun, firearm or other weapon on a Sunday. Hunting deer or bear with the assistance of dogs on a Sunday would still be prohibited, and hunting would not be allowed within 200 yards of a place of worship or any accessory structure.
“I’m proud to reintroduce this legislation that would increase access for Virginia’s sportsmen and women. Hunters are the only user-group excluded from public lands on Sundays, and we should be working to provide more opportunities for people to get outdoors,” said Delegate James Edmunds.
Public lands Sunday hunting is permitted in some capacity in 46 states, including Virginia, which allows it on a few Wildlife Management Areas that are owned by private entities. Additionally, Sunday hunting occurs on public lands in the state for waterfowl and rail subject to geographical limitations established by the Director of the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.
West Virginia repealed the law prohibiting Sunday hunting on public lands in 2018, and seven-day hunting has taken place on public lands without conflict with other user-groups. North Carolina is currently undertaking rulemaking to allow Sunday hunting on Game Lands after the legislature transferred regulatory authority for public lands Sunday hunting to the state fish and wildlife agency in 2017.
Sunday hunting restrictions are “blue laws” with no basis in wildlife management. Expanding Sunday hunting opportunities increases access for sportsmen and women which supports hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) and conservation funding for the state.
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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?Vote Here
- Increase the number of states with discounted license tailored to specific groups. (5.19%)
- Increase access to public lands. (24.77%)
- Provide more information for new participants. (4.09%)
- Provide hands on opportunities to improve skills and knowledge. (13.19%)
- Engage youth through hunter and conservation programs in schools. (42.98%)
- I feel we have enough sportsmen and women and do not believe R3 programs are necessary. (9.79%)