Public Comments for 03/02/2022 Agriculture Chesapeake and Natural Resources - Natural Resources Subcommittee
SB8 - Hunting on Sundays; permits hunting on public or private land, etc.
Last Name: Culclasure Organization: Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation Locality: Midlothian, VA

Comments Document

Dear Chairman Ware and M The Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation strongly supports SB 8. Please see the attached letter from 15 sportsmen's groups in support of this bill. Thank you, John Culclasure 3508 Crossings Way Midlothian, VA 23113

Last Name: Golla Locality: Botetourt

As a lifelong VA resident and hunter, I implore you to pass SB8 and SB492. Hunting and trapping are fundamental ways of life for many Virginia’s. Many hard working residents are shorted 50% of their available hunting time because of out of date laws that are not based on science blocking Sunday hunting. For people working Monday-Friday, Saturday is the only day available for them to pass along the traditions to their children. Please pas these bills to keep Virginia’s hunting and trapping heritage alive and help it thrive! Thank you!

Last Name: Nicholson-Price Locality: Shenandoah

My husband is a avid Hunter. I am a avid trail rider on horseback. This will only cause conflict with other National Forest users hikers, bikers, etc. It will also be putting people using the National Forest that are non hunters in crave danger. Non hunting people should get to have 1 day to enjoy nature without worrying about being shot.

Last Name: Price Locality: Edinburg va

Iam a avid hunter and I think this would only cause conflict between other people and groups wanting to use the national forest. I strongly think that others should have the opportunity to the land.

Last Name: Honsberger Locality: Chesterfield

First of all, I want to thank your for your service to the Commonwealth of Virginia. I write in support of Senate Bill 8, “SB 8 Hunting on Sundays; permits hunting on public or private land, etc.” I am a new hunter, and am learning that it is difficult to find and make time to enjoy the practice on public lands. As with many other working Virginians, the best time tends to be weekends. Not only would allowing Sunday hunting improve access, it will improve equity for a broad swath of Virginians. You may be aware that it is currently legal to hunt on privately owned land in Virginia. This means that a large section of non-landowners is currently at a disadvantage to more well-off or well-connected Virginians. I hope you will consider these points and support SB8.

Last Name: Hancock Locality: Monterey

I would just like to say it is unbelievable with all the great things hunting dollars go towards that we are not allowed to hunt public lands on Sundays. I could post numbers but I’m sure many already have, and they’re very simple to look up. Hunters are the driving force behind conservation for these exact lands that we are being prohibited from enjoying on Sundays. This is a ridiculous law and it’s shameful it’s still there. Open public land hunting on Sundays!

Last Name: Sanger Locality: Louisa

I am in support of SB8 and ask you to vote yes on SB8. I, like many Virginians, work 40 or more hours per week Monday through Friday and the weekends are my only opportunity to hunt. By allowing hunting on Sundays on public lands, that doubles working-class hunters' opportunities to harvest game. In turn, that doubles some hunters' chances to provide healthy, sustainable wild game for our families, which is a primary reason that I hunt. As quoted from the Virginia DNR website, the "economic impact of deer hunting in Virginia is over $500 million annually", and that does not include additional revenue that is generated from small game, upland bird, turkey or bear, all of which are currently unlawful to hunt on Sundays on public lands due to an archaic law. Currently, Virginia is one of only seven states in the United States that still has laws banning Sunday hunting in some form, which can lead to residents heading across the borders and turning to out-of-state options. Our state's public lands should be able to be enjoyed by all who are able to access them, including hunters, regardless of day of the week. I am in support of SB8 and ask you to vote YES!

Last Name: READAL Organization: Virginia Bowhunters Association Locality: ALEXANDRIA

Comments Document

Dear Natural Resources Sub-Committee: The Virginia Bowhunters Association is one of the oldest hunting advocacy groups in the Commonwealth, and we were instrumental in getting bowhunting approved by Virginia’s Game Department in 1949. We believe our position represents Virginia’s 95,000 bowhunters. We urge you to vote YES on SB 8 for these reasons: • Sunday hunting is safe for all users. We have worked with the VA DWR to look at the records and there has been only ONE two-person hunting incident involving a non-hunter on public land in the last 10 years. Clearly it is safe for hunters and non-hunters to use our public lands simultaneously. • The Board of the VA DWR supports Sunday hunting. The Board states that there is no game management reason for continuing a ban on hunting on public land. The Board’s Resolution of October 2021 calls for ALL Virginia hunters and recreational enthusiasts to be treated equally and given full access to public land. • Positive Economic Impact. SB 8 will create nearly 4,000 new jobs and increase the state economy by almost $300 million. (Sunday Hunting Coalition, led by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and joined by 16 other outdoor organizations). • Sunday hunting is widespread and successful. Currently 46 states allow hunting on Sunday to some extent. When Sunday hunting on private land was passed in Virginia, the “widespread conflicts” predicted by opponents did not materialize. Game populations have not been harmed. (Roanoke Times, VA DWR, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation) • Sunday as a mandatory day of rest restricts the rights of individuals to choose their own form and time of rest and worship. Golf, fishing, boating (all more dangerous than hunting) and almost all other forms of outdoor recreation are allowed on Sunday. Thank you for your consideration. Larry Readal VBA Publicity Director

Last Name: Baird Organization: Delta Waterfowl Foundation Locality: Glen Allen

Comments Document

See attached.

Last Name: Culclasure Organization: Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation and 14 Other Organizations Locality: Midlothian, VA

Comments Document

Dear Chairman Ware and Members of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee, Please see the attached letter from the hunting conservation community in support of SB 8 which would allow Sunday hunting on public lands. Also attached is the resolution adopted in October 2021 by the Virginia Board of Wildlife Resources expressing support for allowing Sunday hunting on public lands. Signatories include: American Woodcock Society Capital Region Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation Delta Waterfowl National Deer Association National Rifle Association National Shooting Sports Foundation Pheasants Forever Quail Forever Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Ruffed Grouse Society Safari Club International Virginia Bowhunters Association Virginia Deer Hunters Association Wildlife Foundation of Virginia Thank you for your consideration. Respectfully, John Culclasure Southeastern States Assistant Director Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation 3508 Crossings Way Midlothian, VA 23113

Last Name: Werner Locality: Bumpass

This bill is very important to hunters all over Virginia. As an average joe working citizen, Saturday and Sunday are the only days I am able to recreate. By allowing Sunday hunting on public lands, many Virginian’s including myself would be able to essentially double our time in the field. As an avid bird hunter I often walk miles in search on my game. The only spaces left in Virginia large enough to do this is our public lands. While there are many proponents against this bill, it should be noted that most of the funding for these lands comes from hunting license and forest use permits. I hope that you will consider these points that I have submitted for your consideration. Thanks, Chase Werner

Last Name: Jennings Locality: Spotsylvania

I stand behind this Bill. I think it would be a great way to get our hunter recruitment numbers up and allow the people that can’t afford a big private lease, an opportunity to enjoy Virginias hunting traditions on Sunday on public land.

Last Name: Lehmann Organization: Virginia Public Land Hunters and Fisherman Locality: Rockville

Honorable Delegate(s), On behalf of Virginia Public Land Hunters and Fisherman, a group of just under 10,000 Virginia public land users, we are in full support of SB8. This bill has received strong local support in the hunting community of Virginia, along with national support among out of state hunters and visitors of the Commonwealth. We know that over 20,000 individual emails have been sent to the members of the Committee on Agriculture Chesapeake and Natural Resources from our members and our partnerships alone. Access is one of the leading issues among public land users in the nation, and it is past time to provide access parity to hunters in the Commonwealth. It has been 8 years since this legislative body created access inequality in hunting. Private land owners have been permitted to hunt their lands since 2014, creating inequity of opportunity with obvious reward to wealth, prestige, and landownership. The most polarizing subject of bills such as SB8 remains religious rights. Disallowing Sunday hunting is a true religious liberties issue, forcing largely Christian viewpoints and “day of rest” beliefs on other religious and non-religious users of public land. With respect to religious activity, Individuals should have choice on Sundays. They are given that choice in all other public land recreation, and given that choice on private land. Hunting is the only otherwise legal activity you can not participate in on Sundays on our beautiful public lands within the Commonwealth. This bill has a necessary and incredible compromise with respect to all, to protect choice and religious liberty, with the clause “so long as it takes place more than 200 yards of a place of worship.” Passing SB8, legalizing Sunday Hunting on Public land within the Commonwealth will provide increased access and opportunity for groups like ours and DWR’s mentorship program(s) to teach youth, college students, and adults when their busy class and work schedules allow. Many of these hard working citizens of the Commonwealth simply cannot recreate Monday through Friday, making it that much more difficult to mentor them with only 1 day available per week during limited seasons. Family and life tends to get in the way when only 1 day is available for recreation, and it is no secret this limitation leads to lower recruitment, retention, and success of hunters and mentorship programs. SB8 literally doubles the amount of days available to us to share principles of safety, and ethics like “leave no trace,” and “leave it better than you found it.” At VAPLHF, Our mission is to protect, preserve, and conserve public lands, habitats, and wildlife for future generations within the Commonwealth. Sunday hunting will allow us to further this mission and keep our public lands beautiful and bountiful for years to come. Once again, On behalf of Virginia Public Land Hunters and Fisherman, I Thank you for your time and consideration. I ask for your leadership in support of SB8 and Sunday Hunting within the Commonwealth. Sincerely, Eric Lehmann Founder VAPLHF

Last Name: Streit Locality: Mechanicsville

As a life-long Virginian and hunter, I write to express my support for SB 8. As you know, that Bill passed the Senate with strong support. SB 8 would legalize hunting on Sunday on public lands throughout Virginia. As the Bill has been assigned to your committee in the House, I urge you to support it and to advance it to the full House of Delegates for a vote. As I have previously pointed out to my Delegate for the 55th District, Buddy Fowler (who is also a member of your committee and subcommittee), under current law hunting on Sunday is legal on private land, with the landowner's permission. As fewer and fewer hunters have access to private land, access to public land for hunting is increasingly important in order to preserve Virginia's hunting tradition and to encourage a new generation of hunters and anglers. Prohibiting hunting on public land on Sundays only dissuades and discourages hunters, new and old alike, who have no other access to hunting lands. The decline in active hunters is not just a concern for the hunting community, but for all Virginians who care about wildlife conservation. As you may be aware, most of the funding for conservation in Virginia, and nationwide, comes from the hunting community via the sale of hunting licenses and excise taxes on sales of arms, ammunition, archery tackle, and other hunting gear. Those funds support habitat preservation, and they fund the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. The single greatest threat to wildlife here and elsewhere is habitat loss, and it is the hunting community's investment in the preservation of wild habitat through hunters' purchases of licenses and gear that gives wild habitat a positive economic value, to counterbalance the ever-present desire of real estate developers to eliminate wild spaces in favor of development. Hunters also fund the DWR in its policing of hunting seasons and its apprehension of poachers. For non-hunters who treasure Virginia's wildlife and wild spaces, the willingness and desire of hunters to invest in those resources is of tremendous value and importance. For that reason, laws that discourage hunters from participating in hunting activity threaten the goal shared by hunters and non-hunters alike of preserving wild species of all types, not just game species. As a hunter who relies entirely on access to public land, I have been dismayed in recent years at the General Assembly's continued failure to make public land available for hunting on Sundays. As I am unable to hunt on Sundays due to this public-land prohibition, my hunting license is devalued by a minimum of one seventh compared to hunters who have access to private land, yet I pay the same price for my license as they do for theirs. Furthermore, as I am typically only able to go hunting on weekends, in reality my license is devalued by 50 percent compared to hunters who can access private land, yet I pay the same, full freight for my hunting license. The situation is manifestly unjust - and it also stands as a significant factor in causing long-time hunters to abandon the sport, and in discouraging persons interested in hunting from taking up the pursuit from doing so. This is particularly true for individuals in lower income brackets, who cannot afford the costs associated with accessing private lands through purchase or lease arrangements. Accessible public hunting land on Sunday is vital for hunters, for wildlife, and for all who treasure it

Last Name: Hoffman Organization: District of Conservation Locality: Fairfax County

Dear House of Delegates Members, I hope you will support Senate Bill 8 to eliminate the last vestiges of archaic blue laws discriminating against Sunday hunting on public lands. Virginia is home to countless sportsmen and women. Our Commonwealth must maintain its hunting heritage and expand opportunities so it doesn't fall behind. More hunting opportunities will lead to more dollars spent on guns and ammunition, which ultimately regenerate and replenish conservation funding. Outdoor recreation is an integral part of our Commonwealth's economy. Bolstering hunting opportunities is good for Virginia, our economy, our wildlife, and our people. Please vote to allow Sunday hunting on public lands. Thank you for your consideration. Gabriella Hoffman Award-Winning Outdoor Writer & District of Conservation Podcast Host

Last Name: Martlock Locality: Augusta County

Here in Virginia, it’s estimated that 30 percent of all households are home to a horse enthusiast, and the state ranks 12th overall for horse population in America, according to the Virginia Horse Industry Board. The horse industry generated an economic impact of more than $540 million and supported more than 5,000 jobs across the Commonwealth in 2019, according to the Virginia Equine Alliance. The Virginia Horse Industry Board states that nearly a million horse lovers and admirers travel to Virginia each year to enjoy and participate in equine activities, with trail riding being the number one activity. From wine tours to thrilling mountain trails with incredible vistas, resorts and ranches, trail riding is one of the biggest industry uses of equines in our state. Many businesses bring in tourists revenues from outside Virginia that allow people to experience the vast scenic opportunites of our great state by horseback. Horse owners list trail riding in National Forests, Wildlife Management Areas and State Parks and National Parks as one of their greatest use of the horses owned in Virginia, according to polls from the Virginia Horse Council and the Horse Industry Board. During the Autumn and early winter months, which coincides with major hunting seasons, these out of state tourists bring much money into our state on weekends as they anticipate being able to ride in the forests on Sundays. Large amounts of money from Virginia's very profitable equine industry goes to maintaining horses for recreational riding on trails, involving tack and clothes stores, vet services, farrier services, feed stores, camping and outdoor adventure stores and so much more. Many of these people are also avid hunters and appreciate the ability to be able to participate in both sports because of an equitable split of the weekend to protect both groups. I realize there are hunters who are in favor of this change but I believe it is in the best interests of the community to oppose hunting on Sunday for safety reasons. I know the majority of hunters practice safety, but everyone does not hunt responsibly and accidents happen every year. It is the one day of the week when equestrians can safely ride on public lands during this time. Discharging of firearms in the national forest while there are riders and hikers and bikers out and about is just asking for conflicts and deadly serious safety concerns. Please vote no on "SB 8 Hunting on Sundays; permits hunting on public or private land."

Last Name: Savage Locality: Richmond

The prohibition of hunting on Sundays is a strange archaic rule that should not exist. For most Virginians, we are only able to hunt on Saturdays and Sundays. This forces public land hunters to pile into Wildlife Management Areas on Saturdays where there is no room to hunt. Allowing hunting on Sundays is important for wildlife management and hunter safety. Support SB8

SB492 - Snare traps; prohibits use of traps to hunt/kill game animal during deer hunting seas. east of I-95.
Last Name: Golla Locality: Botetourt

As a lifelong VA resident and hunter, I implore you to pass SB8 and SB492. Hunting and trapping are fundamental ways of life for many Virginia’s. Many hard working residents are shorted 50% of their available hunting time because of out of date laws that are not based on science blocking Sunday hunting. For people working Monday-Friday, Saturday is the only day available for them to pass along the traditions to their children. Please pas these bills to keep Virginia’s hunting and trapping heritage alive and help it thrive! Thank you!

Last Name: Brinson Locality: Elberon

This bill is an attempt to further give deer dog hunters unrestricted access to other people's property. There simply is no reason to arbitrarily choose areas east of I95 for this restriction other than to burden trappers and property owners with the incursion of deer dogs. Deer dog hunting is most prevalent in counties in the eastern portion of the Commonwealth.

Last Name: Hayes Locality: Richmond County

I’m a member of the Virginia Trappers Association and I’m asking you to oppose bill SB492 that puts restrictions on the rights and abilities of trappers, farmers and land owners to continuously trap nuisance and predator wild game animals. Senator McDougle stated in his submission of the bill that only a dozen or so farmers use snares to trap and that most people use them to catch deer hunting dogs. I don’t know where he retrieved this information, but that is just not true. How many dogs have been caught in snares in the last 10 years? Very few, that’s how many. Because of those few instances, he wants to ban trapping with snares for EVERYONE east of I95 during deer dog hunting season. As a farm owner, trapper and a hunter who practices Quality Deer Management along with Turkey and Quail Management on my property, I am amazed that these bills could be proposed as farmers, property owners, and even owners of backyard chickens need every possible tool to help control the coyote population. We also need these practices to control raccoon and opossum populations as they are also nest raiders of Turkey’s and Quail. If this bill were to become law it will be more difficult for farmers to control predators. This is not just a rural problem. Suburban areas have increasing numbers of backyard chickens and deer seasons that span from September through March, which would impede coyote trapping during the best time of year to trap them. As coyote populations continue to grow throughout the Commonwealth we are seeing a decline in wildlife populations as well as increased predation on livestock and poultry. Occasionally suburban pets are attacked and killed by coyotes. Thirty years ago there were hardly any coyotes in Virginia and even fifteen years ago many parts of Virginia still didn’t have any coyotes. That’s all changed within the last ten years. East of I-95 especially the coyote population is continuing to grow. Here is a report from Virginia’s DWR: Hunting alone won’t control the coyote, raccoon and opossum populations as these animals are mostly nocturnal and are rarely seen during daylight hours. Trapping is an invaluable tool needed to practice population control of these animals. Please vote NO to SB492 and allow farmers and property owners to control what is on their property, as currently regulated by the Virginia DWR. Thank you for your time and please reach out to me with any questions. Michael Hayes 2637 Canal Rd. Farnham, VA 22460 804-994-1017

Last Name: Casati Locality: Pamplin City, VA

Our area has defended our, and our neighbors' private property against hound groups willfully and purposely running property they do not have permission to hunt, thus ruining our own hunts, killing our livestock, and endangering our children as they ride on their own land. SB 492 has strong support from hound clubs because they are getting caught in traps they have no business to be near, while we legally protect our livestock from predators. If we bird dog hunters and equestrians can control our dogs and only hunt or ride via landowners' invitations, then deer dog owners are either not in control of their hounds or willfully trespassing and will use SB 492 as one more way to breach any owner's property and rights.

Last Name: DeRamus Locality: Halifax

I am against Bill 492 which allows hunting dogs access to private property. As a taxpayer and land owner in Halifax County I do not want hunting dogs on my property and this bill continues to allow even more access than is currently allowed. I do not think the bill is simply about dog safety but more about access to private land thus I am against the bill. Thank you.

Last Name: Crosky Organization: Virginia Animal Owners Alliance Locality: Wythe

Mr. Chair and members of the Subcommittee, My name is Heidi Crosky and I am writing on behalf of the Virginia Animal Owners Alliance. We ask that you please oppose SB 492. While this bill may be well-intentioned, it is not the answer to the conflict between dog hunters and property owners in the State. Virginia citizens should have the right to protect their property AT ALL TIMES and snaring is an important tool in the tool box when it comes to predator management. Whether we're talking about coyotes or hunting dogs, these animals are predators that cause great destruction when they encounter a herd of livestock. The very presence of a dog quickly spreads panic throughout a herd of prey animals. This legislation is choosing to uphold the protection of hunting dogs (that are loose on private property) above all else. This is a narrow view that is disingenuous to the farmers and property owners of Virginia. It is important to note that these issues have already been extensively addressed in this very committee with HB 1175 and HB 1176. We need more management of coyotes in the Commonwealth, not less. These predators do not suddenly stop preying on livestock when deer season begins. Please stand with the farmers and property owners of Virginia and oppose SB 492. Sincerely, Heidi Crosky Virginia Animal Owners Alliance

Last Name: Kimberlin Organization: VA. PROPERTY RIGHTS ALLIANCE Locality: COVINGTON

ABSOLUTELY AGAINST THIS BILL. Will only restrict private landowners and trappers more from enjoying their lands and lawful means of harvesting and conservation due to the lack of responsibility of the hound hunters to properly control their dogs. With today's technology there is no excuse why hound hunters cannot prevent unwanted trespassing on private lands.

Last Name: Garnett Organization: Virginia Landowners Alliance Locality: Goochland

My husband and I own thousands of acres in southwestern Goochland County, VA, and we live on eleven acres in the far eastern part of the county. We would like to build a second home on our farm along Stokes Station Rd and Whitcamp Rd, but we have not done so because of the issue of nuisance dogs. We are greatly disturbed by the lack of laws protecting our rights to enjoy the peacefulness of our property and still hunt without dogs running and barking all across our land. Some of the hunters even attach bells to the collars, which creates more constant noise pollution. Furthermore, because of the "right to retrieve," we often have hunters parking on our roadside and at our gates, and come onto the property. I am confident that if you had property or a home to enjoy in this part of the county, then you would absolutely vote against this bill and draft new legislation to protect the rights of taxpaying landowners. There is NEVER a day during deer season when we do not have dogs running all across our land and disturbing our peace. I have talked to the dog owner hunters, and they always have the same response: I know my dogs are running on your property. They cannot read the no trespassing signs, and I'm not doing anything wrong or illegal. I cannot believe in modern times such actions are lawful, and I am doubly shocked that any Virginia lawmaker would put forth legislation to further disempower landowners. I will be watching the votes on this bill very closely because your vote will determine my vote when you are up for reelection! Please, vote NO to SB492!

Last Name: Acker Locality: Isle of Wight County

Hello! I do not trap and do not use snares. However, I have livestock (chickens, ducks, and hogs) which my family rely on for food. This bill, SB492, would remove my ability to trap and control for livestock predators such as foxes and coyotes for 7 weeks out of the year, all as a special interest favor for garnering hound hunters votes, at the cost of sacrificing private property rights. I’ve had problems with both foxes and coyotes in the past - when something is repeatedly snd regularly killing your animals, it’s emotionally and financially harmful, and one which necessitates all available tools to stop as quickly as possible. I’ve been able to protect my remaining livestock by allowing others to trap in a localized and acute manner. Trapping is the best tool in the toolbox for protecting livestock. Don’t take away that tool and leave me powerless to protect my animals for that segment of the year. Please leave trapping decisions up to the landowner. If they hunt with hounds, they can prohibit snares on their property. Don’t make me cede even more of my rights and my property to others’ hounds against my will and without my permission. My land is supposed to be my property.

End of Comments