Virginia Welcomes Hunters on Sundays – What is Your State Waiting For?

birdhuntingfirstforhunters030614Sunday hunting bans are one of the last remaining examples of the blue laws that were initially designed to encourage church attendance. Sunday hunting restrictions remain in 10 states. Six states (ME, MA, CT, PA, NJ, and DE) restrict or completely ban Sunday hunting.

Opponents of overturning the ban make unsupported predictions of dire mayhem, but the existence of Sunday hunting in the vast majority of states proves that these wild predictions have no basis in truth. Professional wildlife managers should regulate hunting based on sound science and wildlife management principles, not outdated statutes that have no conservation value.

Proponents of banning Sunday hunting most commonly cite the Fourth Commandment. The Fourth Commandment reads, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.” Advocates believe that everyone could use a day of rest and to use that time to recover and reflect. Landowners get to enjoy the quiet of their property and take a break from entertaining guests from the rest of the week. While animals and birds get a day of rest from being chased and hunted.

Eliminating the Sunday hunting ban will provide all hunters with an additional day to hunt, will encourage local hunters to stay in state to hunt on Sundays, and will give out-of-state hunters the opportunity to visit neighboring states to hunt on Sundays.  Abolishing the ban will also impact local economies by providing jobs, wages created by hunter expenditures, and additional economic activity to the states in question.

turkeyhunterfirstforhunters030614Allowing hunting on Sunday has a great economic impact on local economies. In a recent economic analysis conducted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), it was found that lifting the Sunday hunting ban would contribute about $2.2 billion in additional economic activity and produces an additional 27,000 jobs earning about $735 million in wages. Many states have allowed Sunday hunting on a trial period only to later completely lift the ban. Ohio held a trial period in 1998 and then lifted the ban in 2002.

Sunday hunting allows youth, students, and working individuals more time and opportunity to engage in hunting. This early engagement will lead to more hunters in later years. A study conducted in 2011 by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), found that if Sunday hunting restrictions were lessened in the five states that have the most severe restrictions (CT, DE, ME, MA, and PA) an additional 117,500 hunters would likely be recruited or retained by 2016. This would result in substantial increases in funding for the wildlife agencies within these states.

Not only does SCI have active chapters in all the states listed above, but also most of those states rank near the bottom of state participation, spending, and job contribution. For example in Delaware, 19,000 residents consider themselves hunters; they spend $65 million a year, and have created 1,000 jobs. They rank 48th in participation, spending, and job creation. Overturning Sunday hunting laws can drastically affect Delaware’s local economy and spur job creation.

States should decide for themselves which legislation will be most successful for their particular communities. Educational campaigns that highlight the economic, social and ecological benefits of Sunday hunting are a useful outreach tool and are likely to be successful in garnering further support for Sunday hunting. SCI hopes that the success in Virginia might encourage other states to eliminate their statutory bans or limitations on hunting on Sundays.

Just this past week, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has signed Sunday hunting into law, allowing Virginia to join the 40 other states waterfowlhuntingfirstforhunters030614that allow hunting on privately owned lands on Sundays. With written permission of the landowner, Sunday hunting will now be allowed on private lands throughout Virginia; waterfowl hunting on public waters will likewise be permitted. Hunting within 200 yards of a place of worship and hunting deer and bear with dogs on Sundays will remain prohibited.

Allowing Sunday hunting will increase the ability of landowners to manage wildlife resources by providing an additional day of hunting opportunities on their lands. Additionally, Sunday hunting will likely improve economic conditions throughout the state of Virginia by including an additional $296 million in economic activity and 4,000 jobs for the state. Further, this measure will potentially help to increase hunting recruitment and retention and thereby provide critical conservation funding for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries by significantly increasing the amount of time most hunters can spend afield as they pass this time-honored tradition down to the next generation.

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