Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

April 10, 2014

Group wants status quo on Sunday hunting

Many Maryland residents have grown very concerned about two legislative bills that are arriving on the desk of Gov. Martin O’Malley after being approved by both the Senate and House chambers this session. With the governor’s possible signature of these bills into law, hunting would be allowed on certain state lands on Sundays — a day in the past reserved for rest and non-hunters to enjoy public lands.

The Maryland Ornithological Society is one of the groups strongly opposing bills SB 472/HB 406 Allegany County, Garrett County, and Washington County — Sunday Hunting and SB 473/ HB 432 Allegany County, Frederick County, Garrett County, and Washington County — Deer Hunting — Sundays and is urging the governor to veto these bills that sadly would authorize hunting on Sundays on public and private land, rendering public lands off-limits to other taxpayers seven days a week. Today, the MOS is asking others to join their efforts to stop hunting being legalized on Sundays in the above counties by calling the governor’s office.

Non-hunting users would be deprived of the ability to access those public lands on the one day of the week that they can currently count on. Both bills would subject neighbors and those on adjoining properties to noise and risk. One of our MOS chapters, the Frederick Bird Club, holds its fall count on Sundays, just so it can avoid hunting, and safely access Wildlife Management Areas. These bills could end the access of this club to WMAs for purposes of bird counts in the fall season.

Most disturbing to conservation groups and individuals, is that both bills were at work in the Senate and House without communication to these important constituents, but under the sponsorship of Sen. George Edwards at the request of sportsmen groups and the favor of the Department of Natural Resources. According to the DNR, regulated hunting remains the most cost-effective deer population control mechanism available throughout most of the state, and Sunday hunting has contributed positively to managing the state’s white-tailed deer population in the 20 counties where it is now permitted.

We heartily agree that the white-tailed deer population needs to be controlled. However, in the interests of balance, it is our position that the rest of the outdoor public, such as bird watchers, hikers, horseback riders, runners, etc., deserve one day a week to enjoy the outdoors, without the noise and potential risks associated with hunting. Hunters are vital to habitat preservation and fund much of habitat acquisition, but they have six days out of seven to pursue their avocation.

DNR estimates that the bill could result in the harvest of 250 to 300 additional deer on Sundays in Allegany and Garrett counties each year, the harvest of 600 to 750 additional deer in Frederick County each year, and the harvest of 500 to 600 additional deer in Washington County each year. This estimate is still too high a price to pay for the cost of giving up Sundays for other tax paying constituents who enjoy state lands on non-hunting days.

The governor has the power to veto the bills and we hope he will. It is critical that others wishing to keep Sundays as non-hunting days call or email the governor’s office immediately asking him to veto bills SB 472/HB 406 and SB 473/HB 432. His email is governor.mail@maryland.gov or his office can be reached at 410-974-3901.

An online petition can be found at www.change.org/petitions/martin-o-malley-veto-sunday-hunting-bills-sb-472-hb-0406-and-sb-473-hb-0432?utm_campaign=petition_created&utm_medium=email&utm_source=guides

Kurt Schwarz

conservation chair

Maryland Ornithological Society

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