Small Town News
Sunday hunting on public lands problematic
Legislation in Delaware's General Assembly would liberalize Delaware's hunting laws by allowing Sunday hunting on five days during the whitetail deer season. Advocates convinced an overwhelming majority of Delaware House members to pass the legislation, saying the overall prohibition on Sunday hunting is outdated, discriminates against hunters of all ages who would like to hunt both days of their weekends, and restricts hunting days that would otherwise help control Delaware's robust and, in some cases, crop-destructive deer population.
The proposed allowance for five days of Sunday hunting would be on private lands and certain public lands. That "certain public lands" provision should raise concerns.
Like every other foot-in-the-door piece of legislation, it's fairly certain that if this passes, hunters of other species won't be long in seeking Sunday hunting provisions for the seasons that interest them. Soon those five days of Sunday hunting could expand to all of the hunting seasons, meaning Sunday hunting from early September through February. That would severely restrict access to public lands, specified for Sunday hunting, by those who would like to hike, bird watch or just be out in nature on a Sunday morning or afternoon. Hunters, hikers and birdwatchers are permitted on many public lands at the same time, but those not hunting don't want to risk getting struck by a stray arrow, slug or shot, and don't want to disturb those who are hunting.
If Sunday hunting is permitted, it should not include lands in our state parks, refuges, wildlife areas, forests or public preserves where there are trails intended for general public access. The cooler months are the months when people can enjoy being outside in fields and woods without worrying about ticks and mosquitoes.
And as the days shorten, Sunday, at present, is the only day of the week when most working people can get on their public lands in daylight hours to enjoy the outdoors without conflicting with hunters.
It makes sense to consider limited Sunday hunting for deer on private land, but not on public lands where conflicts will inevitably arise.
Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor; Laura Ritter, news editor; and Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor.
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