Annapolis, Maryland: On Thursday, February 1, 2018, the Maryland Hunting Coalition hosted its 4th Annual Blaze & Camo Day at Lawyer’s Mall in front of the Maryland State House. The purpose of this annual gathering of hunters is to meet/greet Maryland lawmakers and inform them of the hunting-related issues of the day. An estimated 100 plus lawmakers – including Governor Larry Hogan – joined the attendees and spent quality time answering their questions as well as them answering our questions. It was a great day!
Several lawmakers requested support from the hunting community on a couple of gun-related issues: (1) to repeal a law that reportedly prohibits gun ownership for individuals receiving duly prescribed medical marihuana; and (2) to repeal the restriction of purchasing guns from a federally licensed gun dealer, if eligible, only from adjacent states (Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia or West Virginia) to any other state. These issues are indeed important to Maryland’s hunting community; no doubt others will be forthcoming.
Attendees were focused on 3 particularly important hunting-related issues for 2018:
- FIRST, a bill to allow statewide Sunday hunting for all species that would (1) safeguard existing Sunday hunting days already on the books; and (2) provide additional Sunday hunting beyond existing designated days as determined by the Department of Natural Resources through the annual regulatory process. Senate Bill 817 (Natural Resources – Hunting – Sundays) was introduced on Friday, February 2, 2018 as a bi-partisan bill – the House companion bill will be introduced this week in the House of Delegates. Sponsors and supporters alike are hopeful this bill, if enacted, will not only end the annual Sunday hunting debate in Annapolis, which pits like-minded individuals, groups and organizations against one another, but will also provide a long-overdue opportunity for hard working men and women to hunt on their one day off.
- SECOND, a bill to allow a tax credit for venison donated to the needy (Senate Bill 182/House Bill 7). Both bills were heard on January 17 and January 30, respectively. All State funding to offset deer processing costs for deer donated to the needy ended in 2017. This measure would shift from a public subsidy to a market-driven approach to incentivize hunters to continue donating to the hungry. Under the bill, hunters would be authorized to deduct $50 of their incurred processing costs – up to a maximum of 4 deer in any given year, thus $200 in total – from their tax liability on a dollar-for-dollar basis, i.e. tax credit.
- THIRD, a bill to prohibit nighttime shooting of deer under a DNR-issued crop damage permit, worded in law as a “Deer Management Permit” (Senate Bill 747). It’s true that nighttime shooting of deer is illegal; but, DNR has broad statutory authority under §10–206 of the Natural Resources Article (Maryland Annotated Code) to allow such nighttime shooting – and other unidentified means – “after a thorough investigation reveals that protected wildlife is seriously injurious to agricultural or other interests in the affected area.” Simply put, DNR has the authority to allow DMP holders to kill deer at night which is exactly what the Maryland Farm Bureau advocated per its December 2017 meeting in Ocean City, Maryland. Here is the link to the Report:
As Senator Astle stated, “This is unfair and dangerous”. Maryland’s hunting community agrees.
IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS, the Maryland Hunting Coalition will continue to do its absolute best to safeguard the interests of hunting in Maryland – consistent with §10–212 of the Natural Resources Article and highlighted by its annual Hunter’s Summit in Annapolis – within the court of public opinion.