Virginia Public Lands Sunday Hunting Legislation on the Move

Contact: John Culclasure, Southeastern States Assistant Director

  • Legislation (SB 8) to allow Sunday hunting on public lands reported out of the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee on January 18.
  • The bill then passed the Senate on a strong 29-11 bipartisan vote on January 24.
  • Similar legislation, HB 111, is pending action in the House Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources Committee.

Why it Matters: After public lands Sunday hunting legislation died in committee the last two years, Senate passage of SB 8 signals the winds of change may be coming for sportsmen and women wishing to hunt public lands on Sundays.

SB 8, patroned by Senator Chap Petersen, would remove restrictions against hunting on Sundays except for hunting deer or bear with dogs. Hunting on Sundays would no longer be prohibited on public lands where hunting is permitted during applicable hunting seasons (e.g., Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), State Forests, and National Forests).

HB 111, patroned by Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Delegate James Edmunds, would allow Sunday hunting on WMAs. WMAs are purchased and managed with funding generated through licenses and excise taxes on sporting-related goods, the “user pays – public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding.

The Senate’s action on SB 8 sends a strong message to the House of Delegates that the time is now to consider repealing the Commonwealth’s antiquated Blue Law that restricts access to public lands for only one user-group… hunters. Sunday hunting on private land has been legal since 2014, yet Virginia is one of only a handful of states in the country that continues to discriminate against its hunters by retaining the prohibition against Sunday hunting on public lands.

Lack of access is a major factor limiting participation in hunting and introducing youth to the outdoors. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation applauds the leadership of Senator Petersen and Delegate Edmunds and supports their efforts to increase access for Virginia’s sportsmen and women that depend on public land for hunting opportunities.

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