Next week, on Monday, September 18, the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee will meet to discuss multiple bills to increase hunting opportunities in the Commonwealth. Legislation of particular interest to hunters are as follows:
S. 445, sponsored by state Senator Donald Humason (R- 2nd Hampden and Hampshire), would legalize hunting on Sundays and H. 469, sponsored by state Representatives William Straus (D-10th Bristol) and Paul Frost (R-7th Worcester), would legalize bowhunting on Sundays.
The prohibition on Sunday hunting is an old blue law left on the books in just a handful of states. It denies hunters access one day per week despite the fact that each year, hunters pump millions of dollars into habitat restoration and conservation through Pittman-Robertson funds.
Many hunters are prevented from introducing their children or friends to hunting because they are competing against organized sports and other activities on Saturday, which is currently their only opportunity to hunt outside of the work or school week. Countless hunters stop hunting because of the lack of opportunity, both in time and accessible land. The addition of an extra day in the field, especially on the weekend, increases the opportunity to enjoy our hunting heritage. Allowing hunting on Sundays would invigorate essential hunter recruitment and retention efforts.
S. 437, the Outdoor Heritage Act, sponsored by state Senator Anne Gobi (D-Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire, and Middlesex), is an omnibus bill addressing a number of important issues including hunter harassment and firearm transportation on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), and others.
Currently hunter harassment violations only address those who disrupt hunting by means of annoyance, but fails to address property damage such as the sabotage of tree stands to endanger hunters. In addition, the existing law regarding ATVs require firearms to be unloaded and secured in a case, with no exemption for those individuals licensed to carry firearms for self-defense. The enactment of S. 437 would correct both of the aforementioned issues to benefit hunters in the field.
NRA members and Massachusetts sportsmen are invited to attend the hearing and voice their support on these bills. Additional information on the hearing and how to testify can be found here.
Monday September 18, 2017
Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
1 Rabbit Hill Rd.
Westborough, MA 01481