Sunday Hunting Bills Being Considered

BERLIN– Two bills to expand Sunday hunting are moving forward at the state level.

Hearings were held last week in front of the Maryland House Environment and Transportation Committee regarding House Bill 466 and 467. The bills, introduced by Del. Charles Otto, would expand Sunday hunting in Worcester County.

“This is our way of life here on the shore,” Worcester County Commissioner Caryn Abbott testified during the hearing. “In our rural communities, our families use this time to build their freezers for the winter as well as help other neighbors.”

Otto said HB 466 would add Worcester County to a list of several other counties that allow Sunday hunting in certain conditions.

“It’s for game birds and mammals,” he said. “It doesn’t affect waterfowl.”

The bill would allow people in Worcester County to hunt game birds and mammals on Sundays during the open season for that bird or mammal. It would also allow them to hunt on public lands on Sundays and alter the safety zone from 150 yards to 50 yards around occupied buildings.

In addition to a representative from the Maryland Grain Producers Association, Abbott also testified in support of the bill, which she said would allow more time for family bonding and the teaching of a respect for the outdoors.

“Many counties, like Del. Otto said already, have this ability to hunt on Sundays,” she said. “We are just asking that we’d be able to have the Worcester way of life on Sundays as well.”

Otto said he didn’t think HB 467, which relates to hunting just wild turkeys on Sundays, would be needed in addition to HB 466 but that he would leave that to the committee’s discretion.

Abbott again spoke in support of Sunday hunting, noting that many hunters in Worcester County leased land.

“A lot of people lease land in Worcester County,” she said. “They should be able to use that land when they are able to.”

A representative of the Maryland Horse Council spoke against both bills, arguing that the majority of Marylanders didn’t support Sunday hunting. She said there were deer management permits that allowed farmers to shoot deer if they were harming their crops.

“If you keep mixing recreationists with hunters you’re going to have more accidents,” she said. “We want safe Sundays.”

The bills remain at the committee level. HB 466 has been cross filed with Senate Bill 824. In the Senate, the Education, Energy, and Environment Committee will hold hearings on Senate Bills 796 and 824, which would authorize the Department of Natural Resources to allow an individual in Wicomico and Worcester County, respectively, to hunt on each Sunday of game bird and game mammal season.

“Given that the Maryland General Assembly has approved Sunday hunting for several other Maryland counties, it’s only fair that Worcester and Wicomico have the same rights,” said Carozza. “This legislation would give Worcester and Wicomico County families more time to hunt during a limited season for game bird and game mammals.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.