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Virginia Deer, Elk and Bear Populations in Serious Jeopardy

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Please call the House Committee members listed below and strongly urge them to oppose Senate Bill 868!

Virginia Senate Bill 868 is scheduled for a possible vote tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. in the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee in House Room C.  This bill poses a significant threat to deer, elk and bear populations within the state and could have devastating impacts on the future hunting and scientific management of these species. 

SB 868 eliminates the current provision in state law that requires officials from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) to investigate and confirm claims of crop damage before issuing deer and bear kill permits to landowners.  It also adds elk to the list of species that may be killed pursuant to these permits.

This bill is a response to the elk restoration program the VDGIF approved last year.  The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation vehemently opposed the reintroduction effort and knows that this legislation will ensure the failure of the program by allowing the killing of reintroduced elk without government oversight. 

While this bill targets the elk reintroduction program, it also authorizes the unregulated killing of deer and bear by landowners.  Wildlife has always been held in the public trust and it’s not too much to ask to have state officials at least investigate claims of crop damage prior to issuing kill permits.  This kind of unrestricted killing will ultimately harm hunting opportunities and could have devastating impacts on the populations of these game animals across the Commonwealth. Public hunting in agricultural settings should always be considered the primary means of managing wildlife

It is impossible to overstate the irony associated with this legislation coming at a time when the Farm Bureau is adamantly opposing a dramatic expansion of hunter opportunity – Sunday hunting.  The current Sunday hunting ban in the Commonwealth eliminates at least half of the time most sportsmen have to hunt.  This increases the incidents of crop damage the Farm Bureau claims is such a dramatic problem.

The state’s game animal population should not be viewed as mere pests that can be eliminated by landowners in any manner they deem appropriate!  There are times when control outside of hunting seasons is required but it should be used as sparingly as possible.  SB 868 opens the floodgates to unregulated killing of wildlife and invokes memories from a dark past that involved the eradication of species that posed even the slightest nuisance behavior. 

Many other national hunting and conservation organizations oppose SB 868, including Safari Club International, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Quality Deer Management Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation.  Please call and e-mail the committee members listed below and respectfully urge them to oppose this dangerous special interest bill!

House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee Contact Information:

Chairman Harvey B. Morgan
(804) 698-1098

Vice Chair Edward T. Scott
(804) 698-1030

Delegate Beverly Sherwood
(804) 698-1029

Delegate Lee R. Ware, Jr.
(804) 698-1065

Delegate Thomas C. Wright, Jr.
(804) 698-1061

Delegate Robert D. Orrock, Sr.
(804) 698-1054

Delegate Daniel W. Marshall, III
(804) 698-1014

Delegate Charles D. Poindexter
(804) 698-1009

Delegate Brenda L. Pogge
(804) 698-1096

Delegate Barry D. Knight
(804) 698-1081

Delegate Richard P. Bell
(804) 698-1020

Delegate James E. Edmunds, II
(804) 698-1060

Delegate Tony O. Wilt
(804) 698-1026

Delegate John A. Cox
(804) 698-1055

Delegate Kenneth R. Plum
(804) 698-1036

Delegate James M. Shuler
(804) 698-1012

Delegate Lynwood W. Lewis, Jr.
(804) 698-1000

Delegate David L. Bulova
(804) 698-1037

Delegate Mark D. Sickles
(804) 698-1043

Delegate David L. Englin
(804) 698-1045

Delegate Matthew James
(804) 698-1080

Delegate Luke E. Torian
(804) 698-1052

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.