Sunday hunting bill signed into law

By Jackson McMillan
Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Virginians will have the right to hunt on Sunday beginning July 1, 2014 according to a bill signed into law this week by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

House Bill 1237, introduced by Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock, gives private landowners and their family members lawful authority to hunt and kill wild birds and nuisance species on their property, provided the land is not within 200 yards of a “place of worship.”

An exemption in the law gives landowners and their family members the right to hunt outside of 200 yards of a place of worship “any wild bird or wild animal, including any nuisance species, on the landowner’s property.” That exemption means deer and bear may be hunted on Sunday in addition to wild birds and nuisance species.

However, HB 1237 specifically prohibits hunting deer or bear with “with the assistance or aid of dogs, on Sunday.”

Non-landowners also may hunt on Sundays, with the written permission of the landowner.

Lee Walker, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, said biologists with the Bureau of Wildlife Resources need to examine game species affected by the additional hunting day and make recommendations for when hunting seasons should begin and end.

“The Bureau of Wildlife Resources will recommend setting [season] dates that will make sure additional hunting days will not negatively impact those hunted species,” Walker said. “We’re trying to make as few changes as possible.”

Walker said the new hunting regulations should be posted on the department’s website by July 1. The new regulations also will be included in the new hunting and trapping handbook, which will be released Aug. 1, 2014.

Capital News Service is a student news-gathering program sponsored by the School of Mass Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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