Rifle hunting has pros, cons

Published 11:07 am Saturday, March 31, 2012

We have a feeling the Southampton County supervisors will hear an earful during a public hearing about allowing the use of rifles to kill coyotes.

We expect that some residents will express concerns about rifles and their projectiles’ ability to travel great distances without hitting a tree or hill to stop them, and possibly hitting a home, animal or human.

We also expect that folks concerned with the growing coyote population would like a better method to take out these nuisance animals.

Supervisors on Monday voted unanimously to pursue the matter, which will be the topic of the public hearing at 7 p.m. Monday, April 23, at the County Government Center in Courtland.

Capron District Supervisor Bruce Phillips and Boykins District Supervisor Carl Faison proposed the idea.

Virginia classifies coyotes as a nuisance species and allows them to be killed 24/7. They cannot be killed with a gun or any other weapon on Sundays.

The county code makes it illegal to hunt anything with a rifle larger than a .22 caliber, except for groundhogs between March 1 and Aug. 31. The county code also prohibits muzzleloader rifles or muzzleloader shotguns loaded with slugs. Shotguns are allowed.

Phillips and Faison indicated there is a desire by residents to hunt coyotes with larger-caliber rifles. They also suggested not allowing people to use rifles to hunt coyotes during the deer gun season.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Right now, Southampton County is among six localities that do not allow hunting with rifles. Others are Isle of Wight, Goochland, New Kent and Prince William counties; and Virginia Beach.