Push to Open Sunday Hunting on Virginia’s Public Lands Picks up Steam

Contact: John Culclasure, Southeastern States Assistant Director

Highlights

  • Sunday hunting has been legal on private lands in the Commonwealth since 2014 while Sunday hunting on public lands, with minor exceptions, remains prohibited.

  • Legislation to remove the prohibition against Sunday on public lands was introduced in the last two legislation sessions; both bills died in committee.

  • In October 2021, the Virginia Board of Wildlife Resources adopted a resolution supporting changes to state law that would allow public landowners to allow Sunday hunting. 

  • This session, bills to expand Sunday hunting opportunities on public land have been introduced in the House and Senate. One patron is a Democrat, and the other patron is a Republican.

Why it Matters: Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) are purchased and/or managed with sportsmen-generated dollars though the “user pays – public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding, and Virginia’s hunters purchase stamps to hunt National Forests and State Forests yet hunters are the only user-group prohibited from accessing these public lands on Sundays, raising concerns over equality and fairness.

In December 2021, Senator Chap Petersen introduced SB 8 which would allow Sunday hunting on all public lands in the state where hunting is permitted. On January 7, 2022 Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Delegate James Edmunds introduced HB 111 which would allow Sunday hunting on WMAs owned by the Department of Wildlife Resources. Delegate Edmunds spearheaded the legislation in 2020 and 2021 that would have opened Sunday hunting on all public lands.

Expanding Sunday hunting opportunities would support conservation funding, benefit the economy, and support hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation efforts. Sunday hunting prohibitions have no basis in wildlife management and removing the public lands Sunday hunting prohibition would provide access parity for hunters, the only user-group denied access to public lands on Sundays.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation is grateful for the leadership of Senator Petersen and Delegate Edmunds and strongly supports their efforts to increase access and opportunity for Virginia’s hunters.

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