LAS VEGAS, NV -- Executives from America's leading conservation, sportsmen's and hunting organizations have announced the formation of a new multi-organization coalition to remove bans and restrictions on Sunday hunting. Currently 11 states (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia) have such restrictions or prohibitions that date back to "blue laws" enacted in the 1700s.
"By removing bans and restrictions to Sunday hunting, we will be continuing a larger effort that involves improving access and opportunity for all American hunters," said National Shooting Sports Foundation Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane. "Let's not forget, the vast majority of hunters take to the field on weekends. By removing barriers to Sunday hunting, states will effectively be doubling the value of each hunter's license."
The benefits of Sunday hunting, however, would not be limited to the sportsmen's community. An economic impact report released by the coalition has found that removal of Sunday hunting restrictions would result in an estimated 27,000 new jobs being created in the affected states. The report also notes that these jobs would pay more than $730 million in wages and contribute approximately $2.2 billion in additional economic activity to those states. Given this potential economic boom, the coalition is moving forward rapidly.
"Through the network of state legislative sportsmen's caucuses, united under the umbrella of the National Assembly of Sportsmen's Caucuses (NASC), repealing Sunday hunting restrictions is going to be a priority in the states where such laws exist," said Jeff Crane, President of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation. "One of the biggest obstacles to recruiting new hunters is lack of access and opportunity, and by restricting hunting on Sunday, states are limiting opportunities for current hunters and making it more difficult to recruit new ones."
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Fewer hunters mean that game populations, already at historic levels in many of the 11 states, could continue to rise until they reach unsustainable levels. It also means that the state agencies in charge of managing wildlife will be severely limited in their resources since the vast majority of the funds necessary to run the agencies are generated through the excise tax on hunter's sporting equipment.
Hunting and associated industries represent the largest financial supporters of wildlife conservation throughout the United States, having contributed over $3 billion to habitat conservation and wildlife management through the Pittman Robertson excise tax fund since 1991. In addition to excise tax payments, hunting and fishing licenses constitute the second largest source of revenue for state fish and wildlife agencies. Pittman Robertson excise tax contributions and license receipts will inevitably increase with the removal of Sunday hunting bans and restrictions.
"Extremist anti-hunting groups push Sunday hunting bans in a calculated effort to incrementally destroy America's hunting heritage," said NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox . "These bans have a devastating impact on hunter recruitment and retention, yet there is no biological justification for the prohibition. Most families with youth sports and other family obligations on Saturdays are deprived of their only hunting opportunity. This leads to the failed recruitment of new hunters vitally needed to maintain healthy wildlife populations and preserve America's rich hunting heritage."
The Sunday hunting coalition includes the National Shooting Sports Foundation, National Rifle Association, Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, Archery Trade Association, Boone and Crockett Club, Cabela's, Delta Waterfowl, Mule Deer Foundation, National Assembly of Sportsmen's Caucuses, Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Safari Club International, U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance and the Wildlife Management Institute.