On the scent of wisdom

Published 1:36 pm Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Hunters who use dogs avoided a significant restriction on their activity when House Bill (HB) 1900 was defeated by one vote in the Virginia House of Delegates on Monday, Feb. 6.

HB 1900, which initially applied to all dogs — even pets — would have ultimately made it illegal for hunting dogs or dogs chasing game to trespass on properties where permission had been denied to the animals’ owners.

I think it was the better part of wisdom that the bill did not pass. It comes down to what is reasonable — some restrictions are, while others are not.

The situation reminded me of an issue that frequently comes up in the business world. In many instances, businessmen prefer to be free of government regulation that places restrictions on how they conduct business. In some cases, regulations lead to extra fees.

In terms of the restrictions placed on how hunters conduct their business, President of the United Eastern Virginia Dog Association Derrick Toombs said the bill would not have ended hound hunting, but it would have so many stipulations on it that hunters could not hunt with hounds.

And the bill would have led to extra fees. Hunters with dogs who violated the law would have been fined up to $100 for the first violation, and they would have been subject to a fine up to $250 for consecutive violations.

It is important for hunters with dogs to be responsible for them and to train them well to the point in which it is obvious they are not undisciplined. That said, they will not be able to control them every moment of a hunt, particularly when they are on the scent of wild game.

And enforcement of the law would have proven problematic, with conservation officers unlikely to arrive on scene in time.

Titus Mohler is sports editor for The Kenbridge-Victoria Dispatch. His email address is Titus.Mohler@KVDispatch.com.