Virginia House Committee Tables Deer, Elk, and Bear Damage Bill

Sportsmen should thank Committee members for voting to stop a bill that would have allowed for the unlimited killing of deer, elk and bear.

Senate Bill 868, introduced by Senator Richard Stuart (R- Montross), would have required the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to issue agricultural damage kill permits to any person claiming that deer, elk, or bear were causing agricultural damage without first investigating if any damage actually occurred.

“This bill was pushing through at a break-neck pace and would have had a devastating effect on the state’s deer, elk, and bear populations,” said Rob Sexton, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance vice president for government affairs.  “Sportsmen should thank members of the House Committee for putting the breaks on this bill and for protecting professional management of the state’s deer, elk, and bear populations.”

Today the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee voted to table the bill, which likely will kill the bill for the remainder of the year.

Current law requires the Department to investigate claims of agricultural damage before damage permits can be issued.  Only after finding the damage was actually caused by a deer or bear can the Department allow the removal of the problem deer and bear.   Additionally, in current law only deer and bear are subject to damage permits.  This bill would have also allowed the state’s limited elk population to be included in the damage permits.

A coalition of sportsmen’s and conservation organizations including the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance along with the National Wild Turkey Federation, National Shooting Sports Foundation, National Rifle Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Safari Club International, Quality Deer Management Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and many others all pushed to stop the bill.

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