Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Subcommittee on Deer Dogging

The South Carolina House Wildlife Subcommittee met this past Tuesday to discuss H. 3723, an amendment which would have changed some of the laws involved in deer dogging, or hunting deer with dogs. The amendment was introduced by Representative Duncan and would have required a dog-hunting license be obtained by the dog owners and would have called for fines to be imposed on dog-hunters whose dogs end up on property that they have no permission to be on. It also called for a “3 strikes, you’re out” rule whereby dog-hunters who broke the new rules would have had their dog-hunting license revoked after being found guilty of 3 offenses during one hunting season.

The meeting was open to the public and 11 members of the public spoke to the subcommittee, giving their personal opinions on this new proposed amendment. About half of those who spoke did not want to see this amendment enacted, with the other half either wanting it to pass, or wanting it to be strengthened.

Some of the dog-hunters argued that deer dogging is a long standing tradition in South Carolina and that this new amendment would push many people out of the sport. They argued that “dogs can’t read property boundaries” and that they have no way to keep their dogs off other people’s property 100% of the time, and they didn’t feel it fair to fine them for what their dogs sometimes inadvertently do.

Those who favored this bill, or wanted to see it strengthened, argued that their still hunts are often ruined by dogs running through their land without permission, and that something needs to be done to protect their rights as landowners. Some cited dog owners purposely running their dogs through their land without permission. They stated that it’s not only about hunting and that continuing on without penalties for deer doggers is simply allowing bad behavior to continue.

Other issues were brought up as well. Dog-hunters sometimes walk onto private property in search of their lost dogs, essentially trespassing according to land owners opposed to dog hunting. This seems to be a gray area however, as one lawmaker stated that as long as those dog-hunters do not have loaded guns with them, they are not breaking any laws.

In the end, the subcommittee moved to strike the wording from this bill and insert the wording from a different bill that has recently passed in the senate. That bill was introduced by Sen. McGill and is known as the Renegade Hunter Bill. This bill has no provisions for the above mentioned fines and it does not carry the “3 strikes” rule either.

PhotoByBrianCope: SCDNR director Frampton tells the subcommittee that the potential exists for something dangerous to happen if some changes aren't made to regulations concerning deer hunting with dogs.

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