Thank You to All Who Contacted the Members of the House Agriculture,
Earlier today, the House Agriculture,
SB 868 would have eliminated 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 agricultural kill permits to landowners. It would also have added elk to the list of species that may be killed pursuant to these permits.
This bill was introduced as 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 would have ensured the failure of the program by allowing the killing of reintroduced elk without government oversight.
While this bill targeted the elk reintroduction program, it also would have authorized 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 would 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.
Thank you to all those who contacted the members of the House Agriculture,