West Virginia: Pro-Sportsmen’s Bills Advance to Governor’s Desk

Contact: John Culclasure, Southeastern States Assistant Director

On March 7, two important bills for sportsmen and women in the Mountain State completed legislative action and are eligible for the Governor’s signature.  

House Bill 4514 would authorize the use of leashed dogs for tracking mortally wounded deer or bear. The hunter must accompany the dog handler, and only the hunter may kill the deer or bear. Legislation allowing the use of tracking dogs to recover game, which increases the chances of recovering harvested game, has been a priority for the West Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) for a number of years with past legislative efforts stalling. 

House Bill 4523, sponsored by Caucus member Delegate Amy Summers, would remove the limitation on the number of hunting and trapping apprentice licenses that a person may purchase. Individuals are currently prohibited from purchasing more than three hunting and trapping apprentice licenses. Apprentice licenses support hunter recruitment efforts by providing novice hunters with the opportunity to experience hunting under the supervision of a licensed hunter without first having to complete a hunter safety course. 

Bill proponents are optimistic that Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus member Governor Jim Justice will sign both bills into law. 

West Virginia’s 477,000 sportsmen and women support more than 12,500 jobs, contribute more than $1.1 billion to the state’s economy, and in 2019 contributed more than $25.35 million for conservation through 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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