CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A hard push by West Virginia sportsmen has finally paid off in Charleston. The Houe of Delegates on Thursday gave final approval to the bill which will authorize Sunday hunting on private land in all 55 counties.
Senate Bill 345 was approved by the House on a vote of 92-5. The bill had already won overwhelming approval in the Senate. The last action will be for the Senate to concur on a technical amendment added in the House, but the addition seems to be a formality and the bill will be on Governor Jim Justice’s desk awaiting signature .
The bill extends Sunday hunting to private property in 22 more counties. The allowance is already in place for 33 counties, several of which recently voted overwhelmingly for the idea.
Originally, the bill, which this year had the backing of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, was to be on all lands including public property like Wildlife Management Areas, State Forests, and National Forests. The public land allowance was amended out early in the process.
Sportsmen successfully took their request to lawmakers this year by framing the debate as one of a private property rights issue as much as a hunting bill. A number of powerful sportsman’s organizations got behind the measure and used their muscle and the backing of members to get the bill approved.
There was a back up plan in place in House Bill 2679. That bill would authorize the carrying of firearms on park property in the state and won approval in the House, but the language of the Sunday hunting bill and an additional plan to forbid fishing within 200 feet of a stock truck was added when the bill came up in the Senate. The House concurred with the changes and that bill is expected to soon be discharged to the governor as well.
Governor Justice has indicated he will sign the Sunday hunting legislation. It’s unknown where he stands on HB 2679, but if the Sunday hunting bill is already signed, the point is moot at least for those who advocated Sunday hunting legislation.