Sussex County Delaware

Atkins: Bills Would
Benefit Sportsmen
Letter to the Editor

State Representative,
41st District, R-Millsboro

John Atkins is a Delaware State Representative representing the 41st Representative District.

Delaware Representative John Atkins

Dear Editor,

Two bills are currently pending action in the State Senate that would help Sussex County sportsmen.

The first bill (House Bill 160) is a measure I introduced to allow hunting on private property on Sunday afternoons. Currently, Delaware is one of only five states in the nation that prohibits Sunday hunting.

Under HB 160, Sunday hunting would be restricted to private property and could only take place after noon (12 o'clock).

Allowing Sunday hunting would give working families an additional opportunity to enjoy a day afield together. It might also help control the deer population, which in some areas of our county are causing traffic accidents and producing significant crop damage.

Before it passed the House, I amended HB 160 so it would not apply to waterfowl hunting. Migratory birds are regulated under federal guidelines and without the amendment, the bill could have inadvertently resulted in shortening duck and goose seasons.

As far as I can tell, there is really no reason not to do this. Allowing hunting on Sunday afternoons will not interfere with church services. Because it would only be allowed on private property, hikers and other people using our public lands would not have compete with hunters.

Another bill that would help Sussex sportsmen is House Bill 164. Sponsored by State Rep. Dick Cathcart, it would shield most existing shooting ranges, hunting operations and hunt clubs from nuisance lawsuits. The bill is similar to a law enacted several years ago that protects farmers from nuisance complaints from new residents who move into an agricultural area and are then annoyed by the noise and smell of farm operations.

HB 164 seeks to do the same thing for existing shooting ranges and hunting operations, protecting them from nuisance lawsuits filed by people who have recently moved into the area and who have "come to the nuisance."

Both bills are pending action in the Senate Executive Committee, chaired by Senate President Pro Tem Thurman Adams.

While I believe both bills should be released from committee for debate and vote by the full Senate, I respectfully urge Sen. Adams to allow the Senate to take up HB 160 when they return later this summer to consider judicial nominations. If the Senate finds HB 160 acceptable - as I'm confident they will -Sussex families could enjoy hunting together on Sunday afternoons this fall.

State Rep. John Atkins

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