Beginning June 1, 2015; Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) passed a couple new laws that directly affect deer and bear hunting for the 2015/16 hunting season. One new law is geared to “supposedly” help reduce the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) throughout the state of Virginia while the other increases the price of your hunting tags. Virginia also passed some other beneficial laws in helping the continuation of hunter success and correcting some language with a few laws to clarify wording and understanding.
New Deer Hunting Law:
Virginia’s deer population was hit hard last year with Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) also known as Blue Tongue Disease. EHD is not contagious at all; in fact, it is spread by a biting midge (fly) which is completely out of our control. CWD on the other hand is something that we as hunters and conservationists can help prevent.
Virginia’s new law Administrative Code of Virginia 4VAC15-90-293 E., which passed with 9-0 vote, states; “No person shall for the purposes of taking or attempting to take, attracting, or scouting any wild animal in Virginia possess or use any substance or material that contains or purports to contain any excretion collected from a cervid, including feces, urine, blood, gland oil, or other bodily fluid.” Essentially, this means that you cannot use any natural substances obtained or collected from live recently killed deer. This includes; any oil from glands, the tarsal glands, deer urine. This law also prohibits other naturally acquired scents or scents derived from the natural source. The law, which is open for interpretation, is still vague and unclear as this new law may include the prohibition of urine collected from any deer that you as a hunter harvested. However, you may still use artificial scents and cover scents, synthetic urine, and other animal urine that provides a cover scent.
The passing of this new law has come with some praise and backlash. Some see it as a good thing while others deem it as an intrusion from the government on limiting what we can and cannot do in the woods. Question usually remains; will stores continue to sell it? Answer: Absolutely! Companies want your money, so you better believe they are going to sell it. Example: they continue to sell Deer Corn through the hunting season, even though it is illegal to bait deer during the hunting season in Virginia and in some parts it is illegal all year round.
Does this new law really going to make a difference with regards to CWD? This is yet to be determined but for everyone that hunts in Virginia, we need to do our best to help mitigate the spread of CWD. We, as hunters, definitely do not like being told what we can and cannot do especially when it comes to hunting traditions and the way we have always done things. Sometimes it is not always what we want but what is best for the continuation of hunting in Virginia and for the deer population.
If you want to learn more about CWD or EHD, please stay tuned to Chasinwhitetails.com as we will cover this more in-depth in the coming future.
New Bear Hunting Law: **UPDATED** See below
Virginia also passed a new law, with a 5-4 vote, removing the Black Bear tag from the Virginia’s big game hunting license effective 2015/16 hunting season. If you would like to hunt Black Bear in Virginia as a resident, the fee will now be
This law came with a lot of backlash especially from all the hunters that sent VDGIF their input regarding what, as hunters, we want. With a close vote of 5-4 for the removal of the Bear tag from the big game license, it just goes to show how close it really was. Personally, I am not sure why this was pushed so hard. There are more Bears in VA than there ever has been in recent history, especially west of the Blue Ridge. I believe that this will eliminate your average hunter from having the opportunity to harvest a bear, knowing full well that most hunters won’t spend an extra
$25 ($20) on a separate tag when or if they ever see a bear while hunting. Essentially, this new law, which I believe, has removed the opportunity of any VA hunter from ever killing a bear legally in the Commonwealth.
What this new law will do will increase the Bear population drastically. With the abundance of black bears already, this will mean more and more reduction in fawn and turkey poults survivability. Just a week ago, a large Black Bear was struck by a vehicle in Centreville, VA which is a heavily populated city with hardly any wooded areas. Now, with the removal from big game license, the bear population will only increase.
I know that I personally do a lot of deer hunting with my children, and if a bear was to happen by with my child in the stand, I would want him to have the opportunity to shoot one. I just don’t feel that having to spend an extra
$25 ($20) on a bear tag with chance that I may never even see one but “a just in case I do tag” is a little ridiculous. Here is a suggestion; how about VDGIF offer an additional bear tag for the $25 ($20)! This will help increase revenue for the state if those that only hunt bear would like to do, plus it will allow the average deer hunter the opportunity of a lifetime if a bear did come by to harvest one. This is just my opinion!
Other Laws Passed:
Some other changes in laws include the removal of certain words along with the adding more commonly known wording to address questions such as; “bow and arrow hunting” now states “Archery Hunting”. Other changes include; addressing the Youth and Apprentice Hunter Deer Hunting Day to now states the “Weekend”, this is due to the change last year of allowing Sunday Hunting in VA. Elk hunting is now a continuous closed season for all counties west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are few other minor changes as well. If you would like more information about what these and the other changes are, please visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
What are your thoughts or ideas on these new laws? Let me know by Facebook, Twitter, or comment here!
Some information contained in this article was obtain from Dana Horrocks at http://virginiahuntingblog.blogspot.com/2015/06/deer-scents-now-illegal-in-virginia.html
**Update: The Bear big game tag now only cost $20 for VA residents. They past an amendment to lower it by $5. There was a push to lower it to $10 for 2016 but that did not go through. This does mean that they can raise it at any time or lower it at any time. Non-Resident fee will $150 for the Bear tag.