Sunday hunting bill stopped in its tracks

A squirrel sits outside Virginia's General Assembly. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

A bill to allow Sunday hunting on public lands was dealt a swift death on the first day of the 2021 session by the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee. 

The proposal, which was carried by Del. James Edmunds, R-Halifax, failed 16-6, with both Democratic and Republican committee members split on the issue. 

This is the second year Edmunds has championed the expansion of Sunday hunting in Virginia to public as well as private lands. He had argued that not allowing hunters to use public lands often paid for using the proceeds from hunting license sales is unfair. 

The issue has long been a bone of contention in Virginia, which is one of only five states to maintain such a ban on its books. The General Assembly lifted the prohibition on Sunday hunting on private lands in 2014. 

While committee chair Del. Ken Plum, D-Fairfax, said about 50 people had turned out to provide virtual testimony on the bill, only one speaker in favor of the measure and one against were allowed to testify due to time constraints. 

Via text, Edmunds said he was “disappointed that hunters contribute the most to the purchase of many public lands but are the only user groups not allowed to use it.”

“I think it is very hypocritical,” he said. “I really believe that many of those who voted against it voted against hunting more than they voted against Sunday hunting.” 

Edmunds said he plans to reintroduce the bill in 2022.