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Monday, March 25, 2013
Proposed changes to Virginia's hunting regulations have been made official.
At a meeting in Richmond on Thursday, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries approved for public consideration an extensive list of possible tweaks to hunting rules.
Next up is a public comment period during which hunters and other interested citizens will be invited to offer feedback on the proposals.
Taking into account biological data and public input, the agency's staff generated the list of potential proposals, which were collected in an 81-page document.
The board had the flexibility to change suggestions, but gave the go-ahead to nearly all of the staff-generated proposals with just a few minor adjustments.
Those adjustments primarily applied to deer hunting rules in Northern Virginia, where the agency continues to wrestle with an expanding and troublesome whitetail population.
In Western Virginia, the primary movement on deer hunting regulations will be toward more conservative rules.
Those include additional restrictions on doe-hunting days on private land in many counties, as well as the dropping earn-a-buck requirements in Franklin and Patrick counties.
One proposed liberalization entails increasing from one to two the daily deer bag limit for Roanoke County, one of the counties where the earn-a-buck rule will remain in effect.
A proposed change that would likely impact many hunters would ban the feeding of deer during any open deer season.
The current law bans feeding from Sept. 1 through the first Saturday in January, the final day for most deer seasons.
After the ban ends many hunters put out feed, such as corn, in front of scouting cameras in hopes of getting an idea of the deer that survived the hunting season.
With hunting over bait always illegal, that post-season allowance can create some law enforcement challenges in counties with special late deer opportunities, including urban archery seasons.
Also addressing law enforcement concerns is a proposal that would deem a site baited for 10 days after all bait is removed.
Currently, the law has a loophole that allows hunters to say that they haven't placed bait in an area, and that any bait is just left over from being placed prior to the deadline.
Hunters who wish to comment on the proposals can do so online. The list of proposed changes will be posted on the DGIF website (www.huntfishva.com) soon.
Public meetings provide another comment venue.
The following meetings are planned in Western Virginia:
The comment period will run from April 2 through May 31. The board will vote on the proposals on June 13, with changes going into effect starting with the fall hunting seasons.
Homestead extends skiing season
The Homestead's ski area, in part because of its relatively low elevation, is usually among the first ski areas in the region to shut down its slope operations.
This winter's weather has been anything but usual, and that's allowing the Homestead (www.thehomestead.com) to keep its ski operation open through this coming weekend.
Snowshoe Mountain (www.snowshoemtn.com), where the snowfall this season is approaching 180 inches, also plans to close after Easter Sunday, despite an informal begging campaign some skiers have launched on the resort's Facebook page.
Listings sought for annual race calendar
I'll be putting together my annual calendar of area running, biking and triathlon races this week.
If you'd like your event listed email the information - race name, date, location, entry fees, etc. - to email@example.com, or fax the flier to 981-3392.
Weather JournalEarly mix, then ice storm Sunday