RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Eight years after Virginia lifted its ban on hunting on Sundays, the state Senate passed a bill expanding the rules to allow hunters to use private and public land.
The Virginia General Assembly voted in 2014 to allow hunting on Sundays, but only on private property and with the landowner’s written permission. On Monday, the state Senate approved a measure that would permit hunters to use public land on Sundays.
The bill, introduced by state Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City), passed the Virginia Senate on a 29-11 vote with support and opposition from both parties. The measure would have to get through the Virginia House of Delegates and also would need to be signed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin to become law.
“We’ve had Sunday hunting for the last eight years and I think it’s fair to say that civilization has come to an end, although that may be up for debate,” Petersen said on the Senate floor Monday. “Bottom line is that there are people who would like to basically extend this right to public lands on Sunday.”
Petersen pointed to other states in the area, Maryland, West Virginia and North Carolina, that have expanded rules for Sunday hunting. He added that his bill would give Virginians an extra day in their weekend to go hunting.
“This is just an access issue,” Petersen continued. “I know that some people don’t like Sunday hunting. I understand that. I’m not going to try to change their views but I do believe that for those people believe in outdoor recreation and you only get two days on a weekend and this is one of them.”
Under the current law, people can hunt wild birds and animals on private property or with the landowner’s permission. A hunter can also kill waterfowl (ducks, geese, swan) and rails (moorhens and gallinules) on public lands approved by the director of the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.
People in Virginia can’t use dogs or hunt within 200 yards of a place of worship on Sundays. Petersen’s bill would maintain those rules.
There is a proposed bill in the Virginia House from Del. James Edmunds (R-Halifax) that would allow hunting on Sundays in wildlife management areas that are owned by the Department of Wildlife Resources.