Sunday hunting bills are now dead for 2012. Thanks to all who came out to support bullet-free Sundays.
(Dear) Members of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee:
On behalf of bicyclists and other outdoor users across the Commonwealth, I would ask you to oppose the various Sunday hunting bills being considered before the Committee.
There are approximately 310,000 licensed hunters in Virginia and another 40,000 non-licensed hunters according to DGIF estimates, out of a total population of over 8,100,000 residents in Virginia. Reviewing DGIF statistics, the number of licensed hunters has been steadily decreasing from a high of 517,000 in 1988. This means approximately four percent of Virginia’s citizens hunt and over 95% of our citizens do not.
Over the past 12 years, 600 hunters have been injured including 54 fatalities.
While the number of hunters is steadily decreasing, the number of citizens who engage in outdoor activities OTHER than hunting is growing.
DCR’s 2011 Outdoor Demand Survey found that Virginia citizens engage in the following activities:
Activity 2006 2011
Walking for pleasure 71.7% 82.2%
Visiting Parks – 50.6
Hiking/ Backpacking 16.0 24.8
Visiting Natural Preserves – 19.4
Freshwater Fishing 19.9 24.4
Off-road bicycling 5.0 13.5
Canoeing/ Kayaking/rowing 9.3 15.7
Fitness Trail 10.8 12.7
Hunting 7.6 12.6
Public Perception of Outdoor Recreation Facilities Most Needed
Activity 2006 2011
Hiking and Walking Trails 49.0% 67.6%
State waters: fishing, swimming, 50.5 59.6
Natural Areas 42.0 55.1
Bicycling trails 39.7 54.2
Canoeing, kayaking – 46.4
Wildlife watching and nature study – 44.8
I think the conclusions are obvious: fewer Virginians are hunting while more citizens want to and are engaging in other types of outdoor activities.
Therefore, I ask, doesn’t it make sense to allow (and even promote) citizen to engage in these other activities one day per week?
Hunters have six days per week during season to partake in their avocation. The vast majority of the rest of us, the bicyclists, hikers, fishermen, equestrians, birders, paddlers, etc. would like the peace of mind to know that we have ONE DAY OF THE WEEK during hunting season to know that we won’t face the danger of being killed or injured by a stray bullet. (Too, many of us also also would like to enjoy the sounds of the outdoors or the peace and quiet without the constant annoyance of hunting dogs yelping and shots being fired.)
Is one day per week of peace, quiet and personal safety too much to ask for the 95% of our citizens who do not hunt? Conversely, should less than 5% of the citizens have 100% of the week to engage in their avocation? Is that fair to our citizens?
Six out of seven days for for hunting seems more than reasonable. The hunters get Monday through Saturday; the rest of us get Sunday.
I would respectfully ask you to defeat these bills.
With regards, I am,
VA Bicycling Federation
PO Box 7282
Richmond, VA 23221