Wildlife Legislation Pending


The 60-day regular session of the legislature will wrap up at midnight on Saturday.   With only a handful of hours to go, I’ve looked into the bills pending which have some kind of impact on sportsmen in West Virginia.

The one which has drawn the most attention and rancor this session is Senate Bill 421, the deer farming bill.  As I’ve reported previously here, this legislation would change the regulatory control of the deer farming industry in West Virginia from the DNR to the Department of Agriculture.  

The bill gained momentum after stalling in the Senate when it was hastily moved out of the Rules Committee and passed the full Senate.  It has apparently hit a stone wall in the House of Delegates where, as of this writing, it sits in the House Judiciary Committee.   Conventional wisdom would say the bill is dead, but stranger things have happened.   Considering it’s an election year and this is a bill which has drawn a lot of fire, its doubtful the House would attempt to run it out and risk gumming up the works on a number of other much more high profile issues.  

A bill introduced on behalf of the NRA seems to have no hurdles in its way toward passage.   The legislation creates an "apprentice hunting program."   An person who’s never hunted could purchase the apprentice license and hunt alongside a licensed hunter for three years out of a five year period and not be required to take the hunter education course.  Supporters say it’s a tool to help recruit new hunters.   The logic is an adult with a busy lifestyle can give it a try without having to commit a lot of time to the class.  This way they could decide if they actually like hunting–and then take the class to buy a full fledged hunting license.

Finally, there is the bobcat bill.   The legislation simply eliminates the need to field tag a bobcat.   The change would enable trappers to skin the game right in the field rather than having to take the whole carcass to a game checking station.   The requirements for a check tag within 30-days of the kill would still apply.  The requirement for a CITES tag to sell the fur overseas would also still apply.

The session wraps up at midnight on Saturday.


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