12/10/06 — Sunday hunting study presented

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Sunday hunting study presented

By News-Argus Staff
Published in Sports on December 10, 2006 2:01 AM

A majority of North Carolinians are against allowing hunting on Sunday, while hunters are split on the matter, according to an evaluation presented Wednesday to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

Hunting on Sunday is currently against the law in North Carolina, with the exception of certain military installations under federal jurisdiction. Only the General Assembly can change the law, which has been in effect since 1869.

Wildlife Commissioners approved presenting the study to the governor and the General Assembly, with no recommendation attached.

Earlier in the meeting, the commissioners voted 9-5 to recommend that the General Assembly approve allowing Sunday hunting, but after a break, the commissioners rescinded that action unanimously.

The eight-month study was initiated at the request of Gov. Mike Easley in 2005 and conducted by Responsive Management, a Harrisonburg, Va.-based research firm that specializes in natural resource and outdoor recreation issues, in conjunction with Virginia Tech. Researchers were asked to explore views on Sunday hunting, determine possible economic impacts, and what Sunday hunting could mean for hunter recruitment and retention, among other goals.

"Today, we received and reviewed the Sunday hunting study, which gives us our first glimpse at a valid estimation of public opinion on this controversial issue," said Richard B. Hamilton, executive director of the Commission. "We are presenting the results to the legislature for their information and review. Any action to legalize Sunday hunting must be enacted by the General Assembly."

Opposition to hunting as outdoor recreation and a sporting heritage isn't a serious consideration in the Sunday hunting issue. The study reports that citizens of the state overwhelming approve of hunting overall, by an 81 percent margin.

The study showed 65 percent of the general public opposes lifting the ban on Sunday hunting. Most cited religious or faith-based reasons for their opposition.

Twenty-five percent support legalizing hunting on Sunday. A majority of supporters said the most convincing reason to allow hunting on Sunday is that it should be a personal choice, not a government decision. Most cited having additional opportunities to hunt as a factor in their support.

Prior to this report, no definitive study on the issue had been conducted in North Carolina.

"Responsive Management is one of the few firms in the world that specializes in public opinion research related to hunting and other natural resource issues," said Dain Palmer, human dimensions biologist for the Wildlife Resources Commission. "Responsive Management and Virginia Tech used scientifically based methods to assess the views of North Carolinians on the issues surrounding hunting on Sunday. They talked with citizens and hunters across North Carolina, through mail surveys and phone interviews to gather opinions and input for the study."

The General Assembly also directed the agency to conduct a second study to evaluate the possibility of allowing restricted Sunday hunting on specified game lands. That study, which will include a public comment period beginning in January, is ongoing.


Courtesy N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission