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Caroline hunting ordinance at issue

Caroline County officials will discuss changing the county’s hunting policy at its Tuesday night meeting.

The topic came up at the end of last year during a public hearing and this will be the second one.

County officials will consider repealing the current county ordinance on hunting and instead adopting a state hunting statute.

Localities are allowed to set their own ordinances or use the state’s.

In the Fredericksburg region, only Spotsylvania County has adopted state hunting laws.

The city of Fredericksburg and Stafford, King George and Westmoreland counties set their own laws

In Caroline’s existing ordinance, no rifles larger than .22-caliber are allowed except for the hunting of groundhogs outside of hunting season. Muzzle-loading rifles are permitted during deer season under both laws.

If the county repeals its current hunting ordinance, all restrictions on hunting beyond what is specified in the state code and state regulations would be removed, according to a memo that the Board of Supervisors will see Tuesday night.

The state code includes regulations pertaining to shotgun slug barrels, archery tackle and muzzle-loading firearms that are already in effect in Caroline County.

Deer-hunting season in Caroline County runs from mid-November through early January, according to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Garry Gray, a Caroline resident and a member of the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries, is advocating for the change to use the state’s law, which would allow high-powered rifles to be used during deer-hunting season.

Under the state law any firearm may be used during the general deer-hunting season.

“In my opinion, from a safety standpoint, there are less accidents with rifles than shotguns,” he said.

Data from the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries back up that claim.

Between 1959 and 2013, in Caroline County there were:

  • 44 shotgun incidents
  • Two rifle incidents
  • Two muzzle-loading rifle incidents
  • One handgun incident
  • One bow incident

However, information from Sgt. David L. Dodson, the Virginia Hunter Education coordinator for the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, suggests that neither a rifle nor a shotgun is dangerous if used properly.

He says there are 225,000 licensed hunters in the state and only about 15 people are injured annually by deer hunters using firearms.

Gray, certified as a range safety officer by the National Rifle Association, said he thinks hunting with a rifle is more ethical than hunting with a shotgun because the rifle allows a hunter to take precise shots at longer distances.

The regular Board of Supervisors meeting begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday and the public hearing begins about 7:30 p.m., in the Community Services Center, 17202 Richmond Turnpike, in Milford.

Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413

rsidersky@freelancestar.com

 

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