By John Culclasure, Central Appalachian States Manager
On March 27, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Jim Justice signed legislation into law that removed the prohibition against Sunday hunting on public lands in the state of West Virginia. Sponsored by West Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Mark Maynard, Senate Bill 451 passed both chambers by wide margins with broad bipartisan support.
“As a lifelong hunter, I am excited to legalize Sunday hunting on public lands in our state. This legislation will not only increase opportunities for families to hunt together, it will also benefit our state’s economy by attracting more out-of-state sportsmen and women to hunt in West Virginia,” said Gov. Justice.
SB 451 builds on the success of legislation passed in 2017 that permitted Sunday hunting on private lands statewide with the written permission of the landowner. Increasing opportunities for hunters by expanding Sunday hunting to public lands in the state was a priority for local and national sportsmen’s groups, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR), and the West Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus.
Sen. Maynard said, “Many thanks to the Governor, the DNR, the West Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, and many other partners for their support passing this legislation. Increasing access for sportsmen and women is key to recruiting the next generation of hunters, and I’m excited for our state’s hunters to have access to 1.5 million of acres of public land for hunting seven days a week.”
Effective June 4, 2018, the law will allow sportsmen and women to hunt on roughly 1.5 million acres of public land in the Mountain State, including National Forests, National Wildlife Refuges, state forests, and state wildlife management areas.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) is a member of the Sunday Hunting Coalition which works to remove Sunday hunting restrictions in states to improve access and opportunity for sportsmen and women. Removing barriers to participation in hunting, such as Sunday hunting restrictions, is critical to hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation. Thanks to the leadership of the DNR, numerous sportsmen’s groups, and the West Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, West Virginia will no longer have any Sunday hunting restrictions once the law is effective.
CSF Central Appalachian States Manager John Culclasure attended the bill signing ceremony for SB 451 in Charleston, West Virginia on March 29.
Pictured in the Governor’s Reception Room at the State Capitol in Charleston, WV at the ceremonial bill signing ceremony for Senate Bill 451: John Culclasure (CSF), Wendy Greene (WVDNR), Emily Fleming (WVDNR Deputy Director), Stephen McDaniel (WVDNR Director), Governor Jim Justice, Senator Sue Cline (WV Sportsmen’s Caucus Member), Delegate Kayla Kessinger (WV Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair), and Senator Mark Maynard (WV Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair).
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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. (3.90%)
- Increase access to public lands. (26.46%)
- Provide more information for new participants. (3.76%)
- Provide hands on opportunities to improve skills and knowledge. (14.48%)
- Engage youth through hunter and conservation programs in schools. (43.31%)
- I feel we have enough sportsmen and women and do not believe R3 programs are necessary. (8.08%)