ANNAPOLIS Arguments between hunters and nature lovers over legislation to repeal a longtime ban on Sunday hunting continued Friday in a Senate hearing with the committee chairman saying the bill was unlikely to get through his panel.
Equestrians, bird watchers, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts oppose the bill because they say Sunday is the only day they feel safe outside in certain areas during hunting season.
“People do other things in the woods besides hunting,” she said. “If that day is taken away, maybe I wouldn’t even go into the woods,” said Cara Grossland of Queen Anne’s County.
Friday was the second successive day of hearings in the General Assembly on the bill that would permit open season hunting on Sundays. On Thursday, the House Environmental Matters Committee took testimony from some of the same organizations that appeared before the Senate Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee Friday.
The bill would open up more days a year for most game, and it would require the Department of Natural Resources to section off portions of public lands for both recreation and hunting.
“How do hunters, riders and walkers know who can do what on certain property? There are no boundary lines out there. We can almost be going into an ambush,” said Jacquie Cowan, an Anne Arundel County horse fancier.
Dave Linthicum, spokesman for the Baltimore-Washington Orienteering Club, an outdoor club with 500 members, said fear of conflicts with hunters on other days of the week limit the group’s activities to Sundays.
If the bill becomes law, the Calvert County resident said, it would sharply reduce the public lands his group could use during hunting seasons.
Hunters in support of the bill told the Senate Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee that many people have to work six days a week, leaving only Sundays free for hunting.
“When my boss says work, I have to work,” said Tim Lambert, an electrician from Elkton. “If I can only hunt six days a week, I have to wait another week” to go.
It’s a fairness issue, he said.
“We’re the only sporting group in the state to be banned from enjoying our sporting activity on Sunday,” he said. “Other groups can enjoy their sport 365 days of the year.”
Other supporters agreed.
“We’re over-blowing the safety issue,” said Edward Soutiere, president of Tudor Farms, a private hunting ground near Cambridge. “It’s fairness to private land owners to be able to use their property to recreate on Sundays.”
He said many of the guests who visit the farm arrive on Friday night and have to leave on Sunday.
The Sunday ban “prohibits me from using my facility on one of those days.”
But the bill seems unlikely to pass the Senate committee.
“There might be one or two votes for it,” said Sen. Nancy Jacobs, R-Harford, “It’s gone. It’s dead.”
Committee Chairman Clarence W. Blount, D-Baltimore, agreed, although he said he has not polled his committee.
“The general feeling I have is it’s not going,” he said.