Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
P. O. Box 3711
204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
Toll Free: 800-234-6575
Hunting bill to go to Senate
Monday, February 3, 2014
By BULLETIN STAFF REPORTS -
A bill that was controversial in the past seems to have gained new support and will be heard by the Senate this week.
SB 154, which would allow Sunday hunting under certain circumstances, won the support of state Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Glade Hill, when it came up for a vote last week in the Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee.
The proposal states that landowners, their immediate family or anyone with written permission may hunt or kill any wild bird or wild animal (including nuisance species) on the landowner’s property on Sundays. However, hunting is prohibited within 200 yards of a house of worship, as is using dogs to hunt deer on Sundays.
“To me, this was an issue of property rights,” Stanley said. “I do not believe that a government should be dictating to property owners what you can and cannot do lawfully on your property.”
Also, he said, there currently are legal forms of Sunday hunting on hunt club and/or preserve lands.
“I don’t think it’s fair that if you have the money to pay to belong to a hunt club or pay to hunt on a preserve, you can hunt. But if you can’t afford it, you can’t hunt on Sundays” under existing law, Stanley said.
A similar proposal, HB 1237, was passed last week in the House of Delegates.
Del. Les Adams, R-Chatham, voted for the bill, while Dels. Danny Marshall, R-Danville, and Charles Poindexter, R-Glade Hill, voted against it.
Adams said his vote illustrated that he was keeping his word. He said he took that position during his campaign for office when he was asked under what circumstances he would support Sunday hunting.
He responded that if a bill were introduced to limit Sunday hunting to “private lands and not public, I would support that. I didn’t know it was coming (up) this year,” Adams said.
When it did, and because “I ran my campaign based on principle,” Adams said he supported the measure. Also, he said, “there is no compelling reason given to me as to why someone” could not hunt on his own property on Sunday.
Poindexter said he voted against the proposal “because I am deeply concerned about the unintended negative consequences to landowners and hunters. ... I voted against the bill because I am concerned by the strong opposition from landowners — the very people who grant (or don’t grant) permission to hunters to access their lands.”
Currently, hunting is allowed six days per week, “and many landowners and farmers welcome having Sunday as a day they need not worry about hunters on their property,” Poindexter said. “ I personally know landowners who will discontinue allowing hunters on their land entirely if this law goes into effect.”
Marshall said he opposed the bill because 70 percent of the people responding to his constituent survey said “they did not want Sunday hunting. ... I did get some (surveys) where they said they wanted it, but I voted no.”