Date: Sat, 02 Jul 2005 02:47:53 -0000
Virginia's parks and natural attractions are the 2nd most visited in the
United States, 2nd only to those in California. Please send a note to
the writer telling him that tourism and recreation in Virginia will be
NEGATIVELY IMPACTED by this cruel and dangerous policy to use cross bows
in hunting wild animals.
Contact the author, Lee Graves, at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, 300 E.
Franklin St., Richmond, VA 23219, call (804) 649-6579 or e-mail:
OUTDOORS: VDGIF ruling squarely in cross hairs
POINT OF VIEW Jun 26, 2005
Some see them as an intrusion.
Many see them as an opportunity.
Regardless, crossbows will be in the hands of more hunters this fall.
The board of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries on
Thursday approved regulations allowing crossbow use in archery seasons
as well as gun seasons.
That includes early archery season, which some bow hunters regard as a
special time requiring unusual skills.
"Our real concern is [that] people that aren't as familiar with the
challenge of harvesting an animal with an arrow -- we're going to get a
large influx into that early archery season," said David Proctor,
executive vice president of the Virginia Bowhunters Association.
The concerns made last week's action a tough call for some board
members. "It's a very difficult decision," said John Montgomery Jr. The
issue was "the toughest one I've had to address" since coming on the
board, he said.
But the majority of letters, e-mails and comments made in several
statewide meetings overwhelmingly favored expanding crossbow use. The
final tally was 2,108 for and 177 against, according to VDGIF.
Proponents say crossbows provide no particular advantages over
traditional bow hunting, plus allowing them expands hunting
opportunities and helps control Virginia's deer herd.
Crossbows previously had been authorized only for disabled people. The
General Assembly passed emergency legislation this year making them
legal hunting weapons and enabling the board to fast-track regulations.
Thursday's action also set fees for a special crossbow license that
will be required of hunters in special archery seasons, including urban
archery season. The cost is the same as the special archery license --
$12 for state residents, $25 for nonresidents (plus a 50-cent issuance
The new license won't be required of hunters using a crossbow in other
seasons. However, archers who hunt with traditional bows and crossbows
in special archery seasons will need two permits, the usual special
archery license and the new crossbow license.
Disabled people will need only one license. They should buy the crossbow
license instead of the special archery license.
Montgomery said the bottom line in his support was being able to expand
hunting opportunities without jeopardizing natural resources.
Richard Railey Jr. cast the lone dissenting vote on a day when board
members filled only six of 11 seats. He wondered if there were enough
game wardens to supervise crossbow use and enforce the law, plus he
questioned the wisdom of adding another weapon for general use.
"Where do we stop?" he asked. "I'm not saying it's wrong, I'm just
saying it's a tough question."
The board's ranks were diminished by the resignation of two members.
Former chairman Daniel Hoffler left in March after allegations of
improper use of department funds, including at least $11,500 spent on an
African safari. Jack Shoosmith stepped down earlier this month in
protest of an auditor's report and in support of Hoffler and former
director William L. Woodfin Jr.
Emotions were running high when the board requested Woodfin's
resignation last month, and board member Jimmy Hazel apologized Thursday
for commenting at the time, "To use an old hunting phrase, you've got
trophies on your wall now. I hope that's enough."
"I am sorry for those remarks," he said Thursday.
Col. W. Gerald Massengill, interim director, said the auditor's report
is being examined by the state attorney general's office, and that any
administrative action can come only after the possibility of criminal
wrongdoing is reviewed. "The difficulty in the waiting is the anxiety
that is attached to the waiting," he said.
Also at Thursday's meeting:
The board adopted a $46.1 million operating budget for the coming fiscal
year, 3 percent higher than the current budget of $44.7 million.
Seasons and bag limits were adopted for webless migratory game birds,
resident Canada geese, teal and falconry. Dates and limits coincide
closely with last year with the exception of the first part of woodcock
season, which runs Nov. 12-26. The change will benefit hunters in the
Piedmont, said Bob Duncan, director of the wildlife division of VDGIF.
Dove season, a key date on the hunting calendar, begins Sept. 3. Other
dates and limits are posted on the department's Web site,
Duncan distributed figures for the spring gobbler harvest. Statewide,
14,355 birds were harvested, nearly identical to last year's 14,338.
About a third were reported using the new telephone checking system.
The board moved its meeting date next month to July 28.
Contact Lee Graves at (804) 649-6579 or outdoors@...
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