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Misprint causes confusion among some hunters

Hunters in the county can now hunt from ground level with rifles larger than .22 caliber rimfire after the Halifax County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted in April to amend an ordinance in an effort to manage the county’s coyote and deer populations.

But the change to Halifax County’s ordinance didn’t make it into the latest copy of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ hunting regulations.

The amendment was approved and copies of the changes were forwarded to Bob Ellis, deputy director of the Bureau of Wildlife Resources for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, in time to be printed in the new 2012-13 Hunting & Trapping in Virginia local firearms ordinances, according to a spokesman in the Halifax County Administrator’s office.

However, the change was not made, and according to ED-1 Supervisor J. T. Davis, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is accepting responsibility for the mistake.

“It was a misprint on their part. They messed up and left the old language in it. They are getting it corrected, but they will not reprint it for this year,” Davis said.

In the meantime, some confusion exists, and Davis said he has contacted Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Conservation Police Office Brandon Harris about the error.

The issue becomes unclear and questions are being asked about #75 in the local firearm ordinance of the 2012-13 Hunting & Trapping in Virginia digest.

The current version incorrectly reads:

“No person shall hunt using a rifle larger than a .22 caliber rimfire within a 100 yards of any residence or occupied building without the written approval of the owner or lessee of the property. It is unlawful to hunt or shoot any live bird or wild animal with a rifle larger than a .22 caliber rimfire except that rifles larger than .22 caliber rimfire may be used to hunt from a stand elevated at least 10 feet from the ground. It shall be unlawful to discharge a rifle larger than .22 caliber rimfire from an elevated stand within 100 yards of an adjoining property line without first obtaining written permission of the owner or, if different than the owner, the occupant of the adjoining property or within 100 yards of any public street or primary or secondary state-maintained highway.”

According to Conservation Police Assistant Manager Lt. Chris Thomas of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the second sentence of this section should have been deleted.

“I apologize for this printing error and hope that this helps clarify any questions that you might receive,” Thomas said.

The corrected version should read:

“No person shall hunt using a rifle larger than a .22 caliber rimfire within a 100 yards of any residence or occupied building without the written approval of the owner or lessee of the property. It shall be unlawful to discharge a rifle larger than .22 caliber rimfire from an elevated stand within 100 yards of an adjoining property line without first obtaining written permission of the owner or, if different than the owner, the occupant of the adjoining property or within 100 yards of any public street or primary or secondary state-maintained highway.”

The new county code section that allows rifle hunting from the ground was approved April 2 and became effective July 1, Thomas confirmed.

Supervisors voted this spring to change the county code to allow rifles to be discharged from the ground after holding a public hearing when 18 county residents expressed their opinions. 

Of the 18 opinions, nine favored allowing rifles to be fired from ground level, and nine were opposed.

Previously, the county code had prohibited discharge of rifles except from elevated tree stands.

The ordinance adopted in April now parallels state code as it relates to nuisance animals and will allow hunters to better manage the coyote and deer populations, supervisors agreed when adopting the new code.

According to the ordinance, the expanding coyote population is not properly managed in agricultural or residential areas posing a risk of damage to livestock, pets, persons, property, crops and plants.

Supervisors said the county’s prior efforts to control deer and coyote through such programs as the coyote bounty program and permitting hunting from elevated stands has not sufficiently addressed the expanding coyote and deer populations in the county.

According to the new ordinance, permitting hunting from ground level with rifles larger than .22 caliber rimfire will enhance hunting opportunities and in effect help better manage the coyote and deer population.