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Sunday hunting shot down in W.Va.

May 15, 2002|BY RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

Voters in Berkeley and Morgan counties overwhelmingly defeated a Sunday hunting referendum, according to complete but unofficial results.

With all of Berkeley County's 58 voting precincts reporting, the measure was defeated 4,989 to 2,175, election officials said.

The margins were just as great in Morgan County. With all of the county's 13 precincts counted, Sunday hunting was defeated 1,987 to 734.

The results in Berkeley and Morgan counties reflected a trend in voting throughout West Virginia.

Sunday hunting referendums were on the ballot in 35 counties in the state Tuesday, with voters in 31 of the 32 counties where vote tabulations were available apparently defeating the issue.

Only voters in Marion County were endorsing the measure. The issue was passing in the county 69 percent to 30 percent.

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Wirt County will consider the issue during November's election.

County commissions in both Berkeley and Morgan counties decided that the issue of Sunday hunting should be left to the voters. In Jefferson County, there was not a lot of interest in the issue so the Jefferson County Commisioners decided not to take any action, said Commissioner James G. Knode.

Sunday hunting in West Virginia is only allowed on private property, and then only with the owner's consent. It is banned on public lands.

The state Legislature passed the Sunday hunting bill last year. It allows hunting on Sundays only in counties that approve it.

If a county's voters reject Sunday hunting, it cannot appear on the ballot again for two years. If Sunday hunting is approved, it cannot appear on the ballot again for five years.

Opponents say hunting on Sunday is dangerous, and that the day should be reserved for rest and relaxation. Sunday should be a day set aside for family activities, they said. Others based their opposition on religious grounds.

Proponents argued that since some people work six days a week, allowing hunting on Sundays will give them more opportunities to pursue their sport. They also said that since it is only allowed on private property, landowners will have control.

Groups pushing to retain the privilege include the West Virginia Wildlife Federation, West Virginia Bearhunters Association, West Virginia Bowhunters Association and West Virginia Sporting Dog Association.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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