Each January the legislative body takes on various bills that could have significant impacts to hunter, anglers and outdoorsmen. VA Outdoors provides some perspective on a few of the bills being considered by state legislators. Regardless of whether you agree with our perspective, VA Outdoors recommends that you study the bills and consider their impact, and reach out your representatives in a sensible manner and provide your feedback.
HB1613 Wanton waste penalty
“Penalty for wanton waste. Changes from a Class 3 misdemeanor to a Class 2 misdemeanor the penalty for violating a regulation prohibiting wanton waste, or the allowing of a killed or crippled game animal or nonmigratory game bird to be wasted without making a reasonable effort to retrieve the animal. “
VA Outdoors Perspective: Virginia should take a tougher stance on wildlife crimes and violations. The natural resource is crucial to eco tourism and sportsmen alike. Often times, the penalties don’t dissuade someone from repeating certain violations. Sportsmen must teach each future generation abut being ethical in pursuit of wild game.
HB 1696 Killing of nuisance species; authorizes shooting, etc., from an automobile
“Killing of nuisance species from an automobile. Authorizes shooting or attempting to take a nuisance species from an automobile or other vehicle on private property owned by the operator of or a passenger in the automobile or other vehicle. “
VA Outdoors Perspective: There are concerns as to whether individuals would use this as an excuse for why they were shooting from a vehicle and covering up their intended target which might be other wild game.
SB 1725 & HB 2658 Stationary blinds in the public waters; minimum distance from shore
“Stationary blinds in the public waters; minimum distance from shore. Provides that no stake or stationary waterfowl blind that is erected in the public waters be located less than 150 yards from a riparian owner’s shoreline at the mean low water mark, unless the riparian owner gives written permission to locate the stake or blind closer to shore. ”
VA Outdoors Perspective: Access to public hunting is getting tougher and tougher. At the same time, landowners need to be able to enjoy their property without the risk of encroachment of hunters – this includes safety aspects. In certain bodies of water, this can make accessibility almost impossible. This bill would certainly eliminate accessibility, or significantly impact ones ability to successfully hunt waterfowl. This drives home the point of hunters being good stewards, including working with landowners on hot button issues that might affect accessibility like this.
HB 2687 Hunting elk; authorizes Board of GIF to create a special license
“Special license for hunting elk. Authorizes the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries (the Board) to create a special license for hunting elk. Such license shall be required in addition to general hunting licenses. The bill authorizes the Board to establish guidelines (i) related to selection of applicants for eligibility to purchase a special elk license and (ii) permitting the transfer of special elk licenses to individuals or wildlife conservation organizations whose mission is to ensure the conservation of Virginia’s wildlife resources. The bill sets a nonrefundable application fee of $15 for residents and $20 for nonresidents and a special elk license fee at no more than $40 for residents and $400 for nonresidents. ”
VA Outdoors Perspective: VA Outdoors was all in on the reintroduction of elk ever since the topic of reintroduction was announced. The only downside is the idea of special elk licenses that could become available to “wildlife conservation organizations”. Outside of this, once the elk herd reaches DGIF goals and sustainability, tags through a lottery system should be the method by which the herd is managed to sustainable growth plans.
HB 2340 Virginia resident hunting license; establishes tax deduction
“Virginia resident hunting license tax deduction. Establishes a tax deduction for the amount an individual pays for Virginia resident hunting licenses purchased from the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. The deduction may be applied to the amount paid for no more than three licenses per year. The provisions of this bill apply to taxable years beginning on and after January 1, 2019.”
VA Outdoors Perspective: As long as the deduction wouldn’t affect DGIF’s budget – i.e. less funding to cover the tax deductions, then we wouldn’t mind seeing this bill proceed.