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Monday, January 31, 2011

Senate Committee Disposes of Sunday Hunting Bill

The Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee met this morning and heard SB850, Senator Chap Petersen's legislation to allow hunting on Sunday.  Unfortunately, the committee voted 13-2 to kill the bill.  Only Senator's Petersen and Marsden, both from Northern Virginia, voted to report the bill.    Speaking in favor of the bill were DGIF Board Member Jimmy Hazel; Jake McGuigan, Director, Government Relations, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Virginia's Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech, NRA's manager of hunting policy Daren LaSorte.  VSSA also registered it's support.  Both NSSF and the Governor's office talked about the economic benefits that allowing Sunday Hunting would have on the Commonwealth.

Speaking against the bill were The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), various individuals from around the Commonwealth, the Virginia Farm Bureau, the Virginia Horse Council, Virginia Foxhound Association, and Kirby Burch with the Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance.  HSUS tried to proponent's economic benefit argument by saying "Bird Watchers are also an economic benefit.  The Farm Bureau representative said that wildlife and livestock should have one day of rest during the hunting season.  Mr. Burch expressed a concern that if the bill were approved, it would began the erosion process against hunting.  He was likely referring to another assault agains hunting with hounds that was undertaken in 2009.

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The issue is dead for this session but the momentum that was gained through the positive press from around the Commonwealth the last three weeks likely means the effort will continue to gain support.  There are legitimate concerns that have been expressed by landowners who have to contend with a handful of hunters that do not show common courtesy when retrieving their hunting dogs.  These are not the majority however and the issue will surely be back at next year's legislative session.

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