AHLA Statement on VA Senate Bill NO. 774
The American Hunting Lease Association, in response to the newly filed Virginia Senate Bill NO. 774 (excerpt below), stands firmly opposed to any laws prohibiting or limiting the freedoms or rights of American hunters.
SENATE BILL NO. 774 Offered January 8, 2020Prefiled January 8, 2020A BILL to amend and reenact § 29.1-521 of the Code of Virginia, relating to big game hunting; guaranteed kills prohibited; penalty.
1. That § 29.1-521 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:
A. The following shall be unlawful:
12. To offer for sale, sell, offer to purchase, purchase, or guarantee a kill of, or charge a fee for killing, a deer, bear, or wild turkey. Such prohibition shall not apply to the killing of small game or migratory birds. Nothing in this subdivision shall prevent a landowner from leasing land for hunting, except that a lease of land for hunting deer, bear, or wild turkey shall not be for a duration of less than three days. A violation of this subdivision shall be punishable as provided in § 29.1-553.
The AHLA believes that any further dampening of rights will severely damage the vast conservation efforts put forth by the hunters of Virginia. In 2019, both in-state and out-of-state hunters combined for more than $21 million spent towards licenses, tags, permits, and stamps. All of which goes towards the state’s conservation efforts. When a bill like Senate Bill NO. 774 is passed, it discourages hunters from buying licenses and tags in-state and forces many to spend their conservation dollars elsewhere; thereby hurting the important work that the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries does.
Virginia landowners are also negatively affected by Senate Bill No. 774 by prohibiting them from leasing the hunting rights to their land for periods shorter than 3 days. While we believe long term leases are ideal for most hunters, many benefit from leases lasting much shorter and would never advocate for prohibiting of leases of any duration. As we have learned in our Hunter Access Survey, 98% of hunters who lease land are satisfied with their decision. Now the state of Virginia is looking to take options away from these hunters.
As we have learned with many similar laws, once a law is put in place it is much easier to expand those laws and take away even more rights. While this bill only limits the duration of leases and the wording that may be used to sell guided hunts, it is only a steppingstone to more egregious bans and prohibition within the state.
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