Action Alert: Support West Virginia House Bill 4116
West Virginia House Bill 4116, introduced by Delegate Brandon Steele (R - Raleigh) on January 13, would allow "a person who is legally hunting and reasonably believes he or she has mortally wounded a deer or bear" to use a leashed dog to track and locate the mortally wounded animal.
Notably, certain requirements must be met. The hunter or dog handler must maintain physical control over the dog at all times, and the dog must be kept on a leash between 10-30 feet in length. Additionally, "the hunter and the dog handler shall possess a valid West Virginia hunting license and all required stamps or permits."
Current law prohibits the use of a dog to hunt or chase deer, and a natural resources police officer may kill a dog hunting or chasing deer if, after a bona fide attempt, the officer is unable to capture the dog. HB 4116 removes this language, and adds language stating that if an owner of the dog can be determined, the dog should be returned to that owner. If no owner can be determined, the officer "shall deliver the dog to the appropriate county humane officer or facility."
The National Deer Alliance (NDA) supports the use of trained dogs controlled by hunters or handlers to locate and recover mortally wounded deer or bear. Certainly, all legal and reasonable efforts should be taken to recover game, and the use of dogs is a proven and effective method for doing so. Join NDA in supporting HB 4116 by visiting NDA's Grassroot Advocacy Center, where you can vote on the bill and send a letter directly to your Delegates asking them to vote YES on HB 4116.