Your representatives on the MAWC Board of Directors have been busy for the past three months working on your behalf to defeat proposals that could potentially harm hound sports.
The Department of Natural Resources had two proposals on the table – one that would have extended the fox shooting season until February 15 of each year and another that would have moved the start of deer bow season from mid to early September each year.
Particular thanks go to Ed Fry, who is also a member of DNR’s Wildlife Advisory Council (WAC). Ed voted against these regulation changes when they were presented to WAC. In the end, DNR decided to respect the wishes of WAC and deep six these two proposals. Thanks, too, to those of you who contacted DNR to voice your opposition.
Below is the final status of a number of bills of interest to MAWC members:
SB 21/HB 265, Criminal Law – Animal Cruelty – Penalties and Condition of Sentencing. SB21 was introduced by Senators Robey (Howard County) and Raskin (Montgomery County) and would have increased the fine and sentence for anyone convicted of animal cruelty. It would also leave to the judge’s discretion whether that person would ever be able to own an animal. Neither bill passed.
SB 33, Natural Resources – Right to Hunt, Fish and Harvest Wild Game. Senator Haines, who represents District 5 (Baltimore and Carroll Counties), introduced this bill as an amendment to the Maryland Constitution that would establish the constitutional right of every person to hunt, fish, or harvest wild game, subject to regulations and restrictions under laws that the General Assembly would enact. This would be put to the voters of Maryland to decide in the next general election for their adoption or rejection. This bill was given an Unfavorable Report.
SB 90, Secretary of Agriculture – Farm Quarantine. MDA also requested this bill that will expand the authority of MDA to quarantine farms that MDA has reason to believe have been exposed to or contaminated by a radiological or chemical toxic material or agent or is infected or infested with a disease or pest. It would restrict the use of farmland, livestock, crops, or farm products. The bill includes penalties and safeguards as MDA would be required to consult with the Governor and the Secretaries of Health and Mental Hygiene and Department of the Environment before issuing quarantine. This bill passed and will become law upon the Governor’s signature.
SB 259/HB 502, Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s Counties – Deer Hunting. This legislation would require the Department of Natural Resources to train rifle shooters to harvest deer in southern Maryland and would also open up further hunting season from January through March. SB 259 was greatly amended by the House Environmental Matters Committee so that it really read very much like HB 1518 (below). The full House passed SB 259 but the Senate refused to concur. The bill died.
SB 414/HB 248, Vehicle Laws – Equine Riding – Helmet Required for Minors. This legislation would require anyone under the age of 18 to wear a properly secured safety helmet when riding on a highway, an equine-riding path, or any other property open to the public or used by the public. It also provides for penalties. Both SB 414 and HB 248 were given Unfavorable Reports by their assigned committees.
SB 978, Talbot County – Deer Hunting on Private Property – Sundays. SB 978 would add Talbot County to the list of counties that already allow hunting on private property on certain Sundays. SB 978 passed and will become law upon the Governor’s signature.
HB 246, Allegany and Garrett Counties – Deer Hunting on Private Property – Sunday , was introduced by both the Allegany and Garrett County delegations. It will allow bow and arrow hunting on the first Sunday of the deer firearms season. Allegany and Garrett Counties will join the growing list of counties that already allow this. HB 246 has passed and will become law upon the Governor’s signature.
HB 301, Calvert, and St. Mary’s Counties – Deer Hunting. This bill would expand Sunday firearms season. Currently, hunters are permitted to use firearms to hunt deer on the first Sunday of firearms season only in most Maryland counties. This bill would allow gun hunting on the first Sunday of bow hunting season and each Sunday in the deer firearms season in Calvert and St. Mary’s Counties. This bill was amended to include Charles County and to allow use of a crossbow. It has passed and will become law upon the Governor’s signature.
HB 521/SB 798, Anne Arundel County – Trapping – Rabies Vector Species. This legislation would allow property owners/renters to trap with a live trap – not a snare, body-gripping or leghold trap – rabies vector species (fox, raccoon, or skunk). They then must promptly notify Anne Arundel County Animal Control of the capture and Animal Control would then take custody of the animal. HB 521 was withdrawn by the sponsor and SB 798 was given an Unfavorable Report by the Senate Education Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.
HB 851, Talbot County – Deer Hunting on Private Property – Sundays. This is a Talbot County Delegation bill that would allow bow hunting on Sunday. As you may recall, “delegation” bills are generally passed because they are considered to be “local courtesy” since they apply only to particular counties and not to the entire state. This bill passed and will become law upon the Governor’s signature.
HB 858, Montgomery County – Leghold or Body Gripping Traps – Prohibition, is a Montgomery County Delegation bill that would expand the prohibition of these traps. Again, it is a “local courtesy” bill . This bill ran out of time.
HB 877, Baltimore County – Deer Hunting on Private Property – Sundays, would add Baltimore County to the list of counties that already allow Sunday bow and gun hunting and would leave Carroll, Howard, Prince George’s and Baltimore City as the only jurisdictions where gun hunting on Sunday would be prohibited. HB 877 was withdrawn.
HB 1207, Deer Hunting on Private Property on Sundays. This bill was introduced by Delegate O’Donnelland would add Calvert County to the list of counties that already allow bow hunting on the last three Sundays in October and the first Sunday in November. It would also allow a hunter to use a crossbow in all of the counties listed. HB 1207 had a hearing but progressed no further.
HB 1512, Frederick County – Archery Hunting – Safety Zone, was introduced by the Frederick County Delegation and would extend the safety zone for 50 yards from a dwelling house, residence, church, or any other building or camp occupied by human beings. This bill was introduced last year and was given an Unfavorable Report. HB 1512 passed and awaits the Governor’s signature.
HB 1518, Natural Resources – Deer Hunting – Sundays. This bill was introduced by Delegate Holmes (Prince George’s County) and Delegate O’Donnell (Calvert County) and would allow the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to permit deer hunting from the first Sunday in October to the second Sunday in January of the following year in Maryland except in the counties of Baltimore, Carroll, Howard, or Prince George’s, and in Baltimore City. DNR already has the authority to permit deer hunting six days a week all year long. This bill would allow DNR to permit deer hunting on nine Sundays, as well. HB 1518 was given an Unfavorable Report by the House Environmental Matters Committee.
Remember that elections will be held this fall. It is crucial in this day and age that you educate yourself about the people who will represent your interests in Annapolis and locally – and, of course, get out and vote! This is the only way you can protect the rich equine and agricultural heritage we, as Marylanders, have.
The Maryland General Assembly’s website, www.mlis.state.md.us, is packed with all sorts of information. You can find status of legislation, bill hearings, legislators’ biographical information, contact information and much, much more.