Virginia’s contentious ‘right to retrieve’ law remains intact

Hounds owned by Paul Wilson of the Keswick Hunting Club
Hounds owned by Paul Wilson of the Keswick Hunting Club(Graham Moomaw)
Published: Mar. 5, 2022 at 9:19 AM EST
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Virginia’s controversial “right to retrieve” law allowing hunters to go on other people’s property without permission to retrieve hunting dogs will remain on the books unchanged after two bills that would have slightly tweaked it failed in the Senate.

Both pieces of legislation were killed Tuesday by the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee.

House Bill 1331 from Del. James Edmunds, R-Halifax, would have prohibited anyone who racks up a trespassing conviction from exercising their right to retrieve for five years. House Bill 1344, also from Edmunds, would have required the hunter to attempt to notify a landowner prior to going onto their property to retrieve a dog if the property was posted with contact information.

“This is not the rural Virginia of 50 years ago. Land ownership is changing and has become much more fragmented,” Edmunds, himself an avid hunter, told the committee. “There is a higher sensitivity today for private property rights than in years past.”

Both bills were opposed by the Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance, the most vocal state group defending the right to retrieve.


The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.

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