Legislation that increases hunting oppportunities on Sundays in Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties has passed the Maryland General Assembly and reached the governor’s desk.
We urge Gov. Martin O’Malley to sign these bills into law.
Once signed, hunters in these three counties will be allowed to hunt on Sundays for any game species for which a season is in progress, with the exception of migratory birds such as ducks and geese, which are federally regulated.
It is important to note where legal hunting would be allowed. All private lands would be included, but, of course, a landowner who opposes Sunday hunting could simply prohibit it among those to whom he has granted access.
Landowners pay property taxes seven days a week. They should be allowed to use their lands as they see fit, perhaps taking a grandchild on a squirrel hunt on a Sunday afternoon.
The public lands that would open to Sunday hunting in far Western Maryland are quite limited. Only Department of Natural Resources wildlife management areas would be open. Examples are the Dan’s Mountain WMA, 9,504 acres in Allegany County, the Mount Nebo WMA, 1,863 acres in Garrett County, and the Indian Springs WMA, 6,400 acres in Washington County. By the way, wildlife management areas were acquired with hunter-generated money, but are open for all users.
Sunday hunting would not become legal on state forests or state parks, places such as the 54,000-acre Savage River State Forest in Garrett County or the 48,000 Green Ridge State Forest in Allegany County.
We think this legislation is perfect. For those who use public lands and are concerned about being afield with hunters, thousands upon thousands of acres will remain hunter-free. For hunters, it would no longer prohibit them from using the lands purchased with their license fees and excise tax on equipment.
Not every nonhunter feels uncomfortable in the woods during a hunting season. This legislation does not prohibit anyone from going onto a wildlife management area for hiking, birdwatching or any other nonconsumptive activity.
Forty states have zero restrictions on Sunday hunting. It is right that far Western Maryland, where hunting is a way of life for many, be included in that mix.
We believe also that Sunday hunting will generate additional revenue for motels, restaurants and other merchants out here in Mountain Maryland.