New wrinkle this year with SB 1334 allowing hunting within municipalities
PHOENIX – The Arizona Game and Fish Commission on June 24-25 is slated to set this year’s dove hunts, which may include increased hunting opportunities closer to home for outdoor enthusiasts thanks to a new law on the books.
The commission is meeting at the Game and Fish Headquarters at 5000 W. Carefree Highway (just west of I-17) starting at 8 a.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. on Saturday.
The commission order on dove is scheduled for the Saturday portion of the meeting. The early dove season is typically Sept. 1-15. Keep in mind that the fall dove hunt is shotgun shooting shot only.
The commission will be considering the effects of Senate Bill 1334, which was passed by the Legislature this last session. The new law shifts total responsibility to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission for regulating hunting activities within municipal boundaries.
SB 1334 states that cities and counties can no longer enact ordinances, rules or regulations limiting the lawful take of wildlife during an open season established by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.
This newly-passed law also amends state law (13-3107) by permitting the discharge of a firearm within or into the limits of any municipalities while lawfully taking wildlife during an open season established by the commission. This new law takes effect July 20.
During the Saturday portion of its two-day meeting, the Game and Fish Commission is considering a host of department recommendations on how to responsibly implement this new authority within municipal boundaries.
Game and Fish officials pointed out that this new law allows people to once again hunt on those large tracts of open, uninhabited and undeveloped public land and State Trust Land within municipal boundaries, and on open, undeveloped and un-posted agricultural lands as well.
“Many of those areas of undeveloped public land that will become open to hunting once this new law takes effect July 20, were the subject of past municipal annexations reaching far out into open and mostly uninhabited lands. An unintended consequence of such annexations was the impacts to hunting,” said Game and Fish Deputy Director Gary Hovatter.
In the past outdoorsmen – especially dove and quail hunters – found it extremely difficult determining where to legally hunt outside municipal boundaries, especially within the greater Phoenix metropolitan complex.
“It’s been confusing and frustrating for lots of small game hunters the past couple of decades, and has been getting more confusing all the time. Thanks to SB 1334, determining where to legitimately hunt will become significantly easier,” Hovatter said.
For outdoor families, being able to conveniently and safely hunt in open areas near home can provide a significant lifestyle enhancement and economic boost. “Given these tough economic times, this new law allows families an opportunity to re-connect with nature closer to home,” Hovatter.
Hovatter added that hunters should not expect carte blanche when it comes to hunting within municipalities.
“We plan to take a prudent and thoughtful approach when implementing these new authorities. Our intent is to strike a balance between increasing hunting opportunities on open uninhabited lands within municipalities while doing our best to minimize potential or even perceived conflicts, where practical,” Hovatter said.
Hovatter pointed out that, while vast areas of undeveloped public land will once again be open to hunting, the game law – Title 17 – still apply. For instance, Title 17 prohibits the discharge of a firearm to take wildlife within a quarter-mile of an occupied farmhouse or other residence, cabin, lodge or building without permission of the owner or resident.
“There are existing laws on the books to keep hunting safe, not just for hunters, but for others as well,” Hovatter said. “All in all, this is truly a positive step for all of us to better enjoy and participate in Arizona’s outdoor heritage and our Southwestern birthright.”
The Game and Fish Commission will consider a number of other agenda items during its two-day meeting. For a complete agenda, visit www.azgfd.gov/commission.
The meeting will also be webcast at www.azgfd.gov/commissioncam. Those wishing to present oral comment (blue slips) during the meeting must do so either in person at the Phoenix headquarters meeting or at the any of the six Game and Fish regional offices where the webcast will be streamed.