Over the past several years, West Virginia voters have decided on a county-by-county basis whether to allow hunting on Sundays, and many counties have approved the measure.
A bill now being considered in the state Senate would make those provisions uniform across counties.
Senate Bill 345* would allow hunting and trapping on Sundays on private land anywhere in West Virginia, with the landowners permission.
“The working man really has one day to hunt in the counties that don’t allow it,” Republican Senator Mark Maynard, chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, said of the measure. He’s the bill’s lead sponsor.
Thirty-three counties in West Virginia already allow Sunday hunting, largely as a result of voter-approved initiatives.
According to the Sunday Hunting Coalition, a national advocacy group made up of several sporting groups like the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, only 11 states restrict hunting on Sunday’s in some form, including West Virginia.
West Virginia’s bill is backed by the National Rifle Association and the West Virginia Citizens Defense League, along with gun manufacturers and sellers from across the country.
But Maynard said Monday the bill also has the support of both the Division of Natural Resources — the state agency that oversees hunting and fishing regulations — and the Division of Tourism.
“It would just give tourists another day to come to our state, sometimes just for the weekend. You know, if someone comes here on a weekend vacation, they only have one day to hunt,” he said.
Additional hunting days mean more money spent in the state, Maynard said.
The bill has bipartisan support in the chamber. Democratic Sen. Glen Jeffries signed on as a sponsor also citing the potential economic impact.
A fiscal note from the Division of Natural Resources anticipates an additional $616,000 in revenue in 2018 should the bill take effect.
Maynard said there have been concerns expressed about allowing Sunday hunting on public lands, but this bill focuses on private property, although he says he’d like to see that change in the future.
The Senate Committee on Natural Resources voted to advance the bill Monday to the chamber’s Judiciary Committee.
*an earlier version of this story listed the wrong bill number