Virginia: Legislation Filed to Increase Penalties for Wildlife Violations

Contact: John Culclasure, Southeastern States Assistant Director

On January 8, Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Delegate Hyland “Buddy” Fowler introduced legislation that would increase the penalties for various hunting, fishing and trapping violations.

Specifically, HB 449 would provide that any person convicted of violating laws prohibiting hunting or fishing out of season, exceeding bag or creel limits, unlawfully killing bear, trespassing, hunting while under the influence of alcohol or any narcotic drug, shooting in or across a road, shooting from vehicles and various other wildlife related violations, may be prohibited by the court from hunting, trapping or fishing in the Commonwealth for a period of one to five years.

Many states have taken measures to increase penalties for poaching in recent years, including Virginia, which passed legislation (HB 1613) in 2019, sponsored by Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Delegate James Edmunds, that increased the penalty for violating wanton waste regulations.   

“Poachers undermine professional wildlife management and erode public support for hunting and fishing. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus to advance this bill to protect our sporting traditions," said Delegate Buddy Fowler.

Virginia’s sportsmen and women support more than 39,000 jobs, contribute more than $3.6 billion to the economy of the Commonwealth, and in 2019 generated more than $62.6 million for conservation funding through the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses and sporting-related equipment through the “user-pays, public-benefits” structure known as the American System of Conservation Funding.

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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?

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