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Committee Votes to Lift Sunday Hunting Ban

(Photo: Joey Campbell)

By Brad Fulton
Capital News Service

Richmond, Va. — A Senate committee has approved compromise legislation to allow Virginians to hunt on Sundays.

The Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee voted 11-4 to lift the state’s ban on Sunday hunting. The bill recommended by the panel would permit hunting on Sundays only on private land in Virginia.

The measure now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

“We’ve designated hunting and fishing as a constitutional freedom in Virginia,” said Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) who wrote the “private lands” provision. “How you can restrict hunting one day of the week?”

The committee Thursday considered four Senate bills regarding Sunday hunting.

Three of them would have lifted the Sunday hunting ban entirely. They were SB 151 by Sen. Phillip Puckett (D-Tazewell) SB 464 by Sen. Ralph Northam (D-Norfolk); and SB 512 by Sen. Frank Wagner (R Virginia Beach).

The other bill – SB 173 by Petersen – limited Sunday hunting to private lands with the property owner’s permission.

The panel folded all of the bills into SB 464 and then passed the measure with the “private lands” provision.

The seven Democrats on the committee voted for the bill. Four Republicans voted for the bill, and four voted against it.

“It is time of the Commonwealth of Virginia to make a decision that the government should not be telling us, as property owners, what we can do on our property, and when we can do it,” Northam said.

The Senate has scheduled a vote on SB 464 during the coming week.

Existing state law prohibits hunting on Sundays, declaring it a “rest day for all species of wild bird and wild animal life, except raccoons, which may be hunted until 2:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings.”

Ten other states outlaw hunting on Sundays. They are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and West Virginia.

Four bills before the House of Delegates also would repeal or relax Virginia’s Sunday hunting ban:

• HB 921, by Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Woodbridge) would rescind the Sunday hunting ban entirely.

• HB 989, by Delegate Will Morefield (R-North Tazewell) would allow hunting on Sundays between 2 p.m. and sunset.

• HB 369, by Delegate Michael Webert (R-Marshall) would allow Sunday hunting only on private lands.

• HB 1002, by Delegate David Ramadan (R-South Riding) would allow Sunday hunting only on private lands in Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun and Prince William counties.

All four measures have been referred to the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources.

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