Public lands will open to Sunday hunting in June

A bill that will allow Sunday hunting on public lands in West Virginia got the approval of Gov. Jim Justice last Thursday, March 29.

SB 451 passed almost unanimously during this year’s legislative session.

Last year, Gov. Justice signed a bill permitting Sunday hunting on private land with written permission of the landowner.

The new bill will open more than 1.5 million acres of public land to Sunday hunting and provide several additional hunting days each year.

The bill will take effect in early June and affect the 2018 hunting and trapping seasons and all future seasons.

“This will provide additional hunting recreation for our visitors and residents and result in a major economic impact for our small rural businesses,” said Gov. Justice.

The governor’s office said a study by the National Shooting Sports Foundation projects Sunday hunting adds $155 million to the state’s economy each year.

At a signing ceremony for the Sunday hunting bill,  Gov. Justice also accepted a $50,000 donation from the West Virginia Governor’s One Shot committee for the Hunters Helping the Hungry Program (HHH). The money was raised by volunteers during last fall’s West Virginia Governor’s One Shot Whitetail Deer Hunt.

The money helps pay for processing hunter-donated venison, which is distributed to the state’s needy residents through a network of more than 600 food pantries, senior centers, shelters and the Mountaineer Food Bank in Gassaway.

DNR has sponsored the Hunters Helping the Hungry program for 26 years, during which hunters have donated 24,630 deer, or 941,000 pounds of venison. Donations have provided 1,266,000 meals for West Virginia families in need.