Jack Walker Published

House Bills Aim To Bolster Hunting, Fishing Access For West Virginians

two men in the woods wearing blaze orange with hunting rifles.
Two bills under consideration by the West Virginia House of Delegates would strengthen West Virginians' access to hunting and fishing.
West Virginia Department of Natural Resources

On Wednesday, the West Virginia House of Delegates Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources voiced support for two pieces of proposed legislation that would reinforce hunting and fishing rights in the state.

House Bill 4280 would grant disabled West Virginia veterans free lifetime hunting, trapping and fishing licenses through a tax credit.

Brett McMillion, director of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, testified during Wednesday’s committee meeting, and said passage of the bill would not necessarily increase the cost of hunting and fishing licenses for other West Virginians.

Still, MacMillian said it would be important for lawmakers to help the DNR access new sources of funding to offset costs incurred by the bill.

“We support our veterans one hundred percent,” he said. But “any time we have a reduction in our special revenue… it certainly does have an impact.”

Additionally, House Joint Resolution 8 would pose a new item on West Virginia ballots in the coming general election.

Under the resolution, citizens could vote to codify “the right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife” in state law. The resolution stipulates that citizens must still adhere to laws on wildlife conservation and private property.

The resolution also describes hunting and fishing as a “preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife.”

Lawmakers on the committee emphasized it would be important that the resolution does not interfere with the operations of agencies like the DNR. They unanimously voted that it be referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary for discussion on the judicial implications of such a bill.