CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The legislation which authorized Sunday hunting in 55 West Virginia counties on private land included more than just the provision to open up a 7th day of hunting.
Gov. Jim Justice actually signed two bills into law which authorized Sunday hunting. The first was stand alone legislation, but the second was a bill which authorized carrying concealed weapons on state park property and was amended to include the language of the first bill. The duplication was a result of legislative maneuvers to make sure Sunday hunting didn’t get bottled up and become an unintended casualty of the typical chaos on the final night of the legislative session.
However, the second bill, which is now law since it was signed last, included a third provision and one which addresses what has long been a black mark on the state’s put and take trout program. The legislation forbids fishing within 200 feet of a stock truck as Division of Natural Resources personnel are putting fish into a stream. The legislation was sought late by DNR Director Steve McDaniel.
“I started going out and visiting our hatcheries I would ask our staff what is the biggest challenge they face,” said McDaniel. “I had two or three individuals just come out and say it’s getting dangerous stocking fish.”
McDaniel says currently it is not uncommon for personnel to arrive at a stream to deposit fish and have 15 to 20 people sitting there and waiting on the stock truck. The advancement of the smart phone and rapid communication along with social media is also fueling what has been a long time problem.
“As a citizen I used to question how they did this. I have seen it, but didn’t realize it was such a big problem until I became director. “McDaniel said. “I guess in the last few years it’s gotten a lot worse.”
DNR employees who stock fish tell McDaniel at times it has been so bad, they’ve been struck in the face by flying lures and treble hooks. The Director says that cannot continue.
“One thing we take very seriously is the safety of our personnel,” he said.
The DNR currently doesn’t publicize the location of the day’s stocking until the work is completed, but in a recent special stocking at several State Park waters that was not the case. McDaniel said the Earth Day stocking was a good event, despite the weather, and one he hopes to continue. He said the new law will be helpful since several hundred were waiting that day when the truck rolled up to deposit the trout.