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Frye: Virginia joins fight against Sunday hunting bans

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Pennsylvania is no longer the only state facing a legal challenge to its prohibition against hunting on Sundays.

Safari Club International has filed a lawsuit challenging Virginia's ban on the same subject. The lawsuit argues it is unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution — and the Constitution of Virginia in particular because of Virginia's constitutional right to hunt.

“Hunters have to work during the week, and young hunters are in school, making weekends the primary time they can hunt. The unconstitutional ban on Sunday hunting robs hunters of half their potential time afield and has absolutely no basis in science or conservation,” Safari Club president Craig Kaufmann said.

Nationally, 11 states, all on the East Coast, ban hunting on Sundays.

Wildlife officials in Virginia want off that list. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries passed a resolution in 2011 urging lawmakers to lift the ban. In fact, its official position was and is that “the Virginia ban on Sunday hunting serves no biological purpose and is counterproductive to matters of game management.”

Sound familiar?

The Pennsylvania Game Commission several years ago adopted a similar resolution, one that urged state lawmakers to lift the ban on Sunday hunting here.

Lawmakers debated the issue then — as they have off and on for at least two decades — and several bills that would have allowed Sunday hunting in one form or another were introduced. The one that got the most support from sportsmen would not have mandated hunting on Sundays, at all or for any particular species. But it would have given the Game Commission the authority to include Sundays in seasons if and where it saw fit.

It never became law, however.

The result is this past summer, a group called Hunters United For Sunday Hunting filed a lawsuit looking to overturn the state's ban.

“We are taking the last route available to hunters, the courts. Not because hunters enjoy litigation, but because they have exhausted their legislative- and executive-branch possibilities over the past fifteen years,” said Kathy Davis of Speers, then-president of the group.

That suit is working its way through the legal system.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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