By Autumn Shelton, WV Press Association
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Hunters may be able to use leashed dogs to track mortally wounded turkey and wild boar if Senate Bill (SB) 200 becomes state code.
On Monday, members of the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee passed an amended version of SB 200.
According to counsel, current statute allows leashed dogs to be used to track mortally wounded deer and bear. This new bill adds turkey and wild boar as well as elk (for future hunting opportunities should they be available).
“The hunter is also permitted to use a dog handler of leashed dogs to track and locate the mortally wounded deer, elk, turkey, wild boar or bear. The hunter or the dog handler shall maintain physical control of the leashed dogs at all times,” the bill reads. “The deer, elk, turkey, wild boar or bear shall count toward the bag limit of the hunter.”
At the invitation of Sen. Robert Karnes, R-Randolph, Shon Butler, owner of Longspur Tracking and Outfitting in Buckhannon, WV, provided testimony regarding the bill.
Butler stated that his business “received over 1,200 calls for assistance” from hunters this fall.
“We helped recover 225 deer in the state,” he noted.
Outfitters must be properly licensed to provide tracking services, Butler continued, adding that he believes there are only three licensed outfitters in the state.
Hunters must also dispatch the animal, not the tracker, Butler stated.
Following Butler’s testimony, Sen. Glenn Jeffries, R-Putnam, proposed an amendment to the bill.
His amendment added language which states that any hunter who, because of a handicap, is unable to track an animal may designate a person to accompany the handler and “complete the kill.”
The amendment was passed by majority vote, and the bill is now headed before the full Senate.
Also on the agenda for the committee meeting was SB 202, which increases the appointment term of the DNR director from four to seven years; however, this bill was not discussed during the meeting.