Sunday hunting sees its shadow in House subcommittee

 Just like Punxsutawney Phil this morning, Sunday hunting saw its shadow last night –all four House bills regarding Sunday hunting were tabled in subcommittee, including:

♦  HB921(Lingamfelter) that would allow hunting on Sunday on both public and private land.

♦ HB369 (Webert) that would allow Sunday hunting on private land with permission of the landowner.

♦ HB1002 (Ramadan) that would allow hunting on Sunday on private land in the counties of Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun and Prince William.

♦ HB989 (Morefield) which allows for hunting on Sunday between 2 p.m. and midnight.

 In the packed subcommittee room, hunters, landowners, horse enthusiasts and people who want to enjoy a peaceful Sunday displayed their opposition to the bills by wearing buttons that said “No Sunday Hunting” and “Save Our Sunday.” Many also took to the podium to speak out again Sunday Hunting.

When people were asked to stand to show who was in opposition to Sunday Hunting, nearly the entire room rose to its feet. Less than 10 people stood up with proponents of the issue were asked to stand.

Again, thank you for responding to our action alerts and contacting your legislators on this issue! As you can see, your voices really made a difference!

Our work is not done, though. We’ve only won a battle so far, not the war. SB464 (Northam, Puckett, Petersen and Wagner) will be heard by House subcommittee during crossover. Also, people may try adding amendments allowing Sunday hunting to other bills. We are monitoring everything very closely to make sure we continue to uphold the policy that you all developed and voted for.

How Many Bills is Farm Bureau Watching and When Do Members Get Involved?

Virginia Farm Bureau is following approximately 200 bills in the General Assembly from the ones that have been introduced. There are hundreds and hundreds of more bills due out next week. For our county Farm Bureau leaders, we will be sending out a summary of all of the various bills that we are tracking on Friday, January 27.

This year our communications process has changed. If Governmental Relations can positively represent Farm Bureau members’ official policy position on these bills, we will not send out an action request through our electronic Capital Connections Action Request system. We activate our grassroots system on bills that we need an extra push on to help our lobbying efforts.

This has been the case regarding Virginia Farm Bureau’s position on Sunday hunting. We have asked our members to correspond with their legislators regarding our position. There is a grassroots movement pushing for its passage. Virginia Farm Bureau has had a policy position in opposition since 1993. We are joined by other agriculture groups including the horse industry and Virginia Agribusiness Council in opposing the passage of these bills. In addition, some hunting groups, religious groups and realtors are expressing their opposition.

Today, the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee passed SB494 to allow Sunday hunting on private lands with landowners permission. This is one step in a multi-step process at the General Assembly. Today, Farm Bureau policy did not prevail but with grassroots support of our policies we can continue to fight for our member’s positions. If you haven’t signed up for our electronic action request system and you are a producer member, please email me at Kelly Pruitt at I will contact you to get you signed up.

Wilmer Stoneman: Sunday hunting poised to be a hot topic in the General Assembly

Hello, everyone! My name is Wilmer Stoneman, and one of the issues I cover for Farm Bureau is game laws.

With the first day of the 2012 General Assembly behind us, there are already rumblings of several bills to be introduced regarding Sunday hunting. It’s too early to tell any specific details, but the Farm Bureau Governmental Relations team is monitoring the situation and will send any updates through the Capitol Connections Action Center. So please keep an eye on your e-mail!

Historically Farm Bureau, through our grassroots policy process, holds the position: “We oppose hunting on Sunday.” Representatives of a vast majority of our farmer members have annually discussed and voted for such a position since 1993. In the discussions, our members cite faith-based beliefs, as well as the ability of horse owners and riders and landowners to use the outdoors one day a week without worry from hunters.

Below are some questions that frequently get asked regarding Sunday hunting. It’s important to remember these points as we move forward in the General Assembly.

Will allowing hunting on Sunday increase the number of hunters?

There is no definitive evidence that indicates allowing hunting on Sunday will increase the number of hunters. The same number of hunters will simply adjust their schedules to hunt when the conditions are suitable to their individual desires.

Shouldn’t Virginia follow other states by allowing hunting on Sunday?

Other states allow a variety of methods and practices for hunting that are not allowed in Virginia (e.g. baiting and others). There is no reason to conform our laws to other states and no reason to turn away from traditions like family, farming and the use of the outdoors by all citizens in favor of an expanded opportunity for a few.

Will allowing hunting on Sunday affect the number of wildlife?

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries staff have stated that hunting on Sunday will not impact the population of wildlife, which also means there will be no significant relief of crop damage from wildlife by hunting on Sunday. Game department staff consistently cite that there is no biological reason not to hunt on Sunday because wildlife has no concept to the day of week; however, wildlife learn habits of hunters and avoid them by feeding at night and other times.

Will allowing hunting on Sunday increase tourism or economic activity?

It is impossible to judge whether hunting on Sunday will lead to more tourism and economic activity; most traveling hunters are willing and have the means to take time off from work to do so.

Will this encourage more youth to start hunting?

We question the assertion that there will be an increase in youth hunting as a result of Sunday hunting. With ever-increasing demands on young people’s time for various activities (school, sports, religious, etc.), allowing hunting on Sundays is not likely to increase the number of younger hunters. Currently, the core of the hunting season is dictated by school holidays in November and December and, therefore, allowing hunting on Sundays will not lead to a significant increase in youth hunting.