Limit CF Phelps WMA Non-Hunting/Angling Activities to Out of Season

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The CF Phelps WMA is a 4,500 acre hunting/fishing wildlife management area in the state of Virginia mixing incompatible wildlife activities on the property. Serving as the closest wildlife management area (WMA) to Northern, Va, and one of the state’s largest WMAs, it serves a crucial role in promoting the hunting, angling, and wildlife activities both on a state and national level. Although unique for its wildlife habitat maintainence, amongst the Washington D.C. suberbs, materially sponsored by the hunter licensing fees, equipment taxes, etc., auxiliary non-hunting activity has been allowed to take place throughout the property during ‘open hunting season’ - overextending the property to the unequitable detriment to it’s users - specifically, its hunters.


As an example, the archery-only portion of deer season in the state of Virginia exists for four weeks (October). Phelps has a series of corn, wheat, and sunflower fields - suitable food sources, providing avenues for archery lanes in the field that stand in contrast to thicker brush/bedding areas precluding ethical shots in the rest of the preserve. The VDGIF permits on an annual basis ‘field trial’ competitions, which monopolize 6 of the 8 fields for three of the four achery-only season weekends - undermining the hunting sport of archery. These same fields are the advertised dove hunting fields, where the season begins one month prior (September), tapering off when migration ends in November. Dove hunting is also undermined. In my first week of achery season, at Phelps, I personally came across a rider, who had a horse incapable of interacting with other users on the property. Dressed in camo, carrying a tree stand, the horse saw my figure on a trail and panicked. Despite the rider and myself both talking to the horse, in an attempt to calm it, it retreated nearly falling over / losing its rider and went into a run-away sprint (rider shouting at it while it uncontrollably bolted down the trail). For these reasons, I find activities such as horseback riding, incompatible with the CF Phelps hunting season. 

Other examples of mismanagement of the property include a 'sight-in’ range with unenforced rapid fire from non-sporting rifles, which scatters game, of which I have both heard and seen the consequence, in the field, first hand. 

We ask that:

- The VDGIF remove horseback riding from the list of permitted activities at CF Phelps during the hunting season and consider a Sunday horseback riding exception, where large amounts of hunting does not take place. 

- Heavily advertise the Field Trials so hunting plans are not made on the same lands as the trials take place. Move the field trials away from food plots, if possible.

- Limit the sight-in range use to the sighting in of hunting-permissible weapons.

Our perspective is that all wildlife activities are perfectly able to occur in tandem, but the disruption of game during the hunting season, makes it impractical for the open season. Mixing high quantities of riders at Phelps with hunters presents avoidable and unnecessary liabilities from the direct of riders and hunters. All of this can be easily managed with minimal inconvenience. Limit horseback riding to Sundays between Sept. 1 - Jan. 15 and April 1 - May 15 allowing for unrestricted activity across the other nine months of the year: Modeling it off the Turkeycock WMA.

 


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