Next week, Senator Bailey will be introducing a bill to the Senate’s Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee that would expand hunting rights in our region. Senate Bill 930 is proposed legislation that deals with hunting resident geese in Southern Maryland. There are two different goose seasons in Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s County: one for Atlantic Population Geese who migrate and leave the contiguous 48 states, and one for resident population geese who live in the contiguous 48 states all year, to include the migrant geese we have in Southern Maryland that migrate to upstate New York but do not enter Canada.
US Route 301 through Charles County serves as the dividing line between the Atlantic Population, which live on the east side of Route 301 and the resident population geese, which live on the west side of Route 301. Slightly less than half of Charles County is east of Route 301, and slightly more than half of Charles County is west of Route 301.
The season on the west side of Route 301 is over 70 hunting days with a daily limit of five birds. On the east side of Route 301, the season is 30 hunting days with a daily limit of one bird. Both St. Mary’s and Calvert Counties have the shorter season and smaller bag limits. The same geese spend the night in the Allens Fresh Natural Area and on the Wicomico River. Surprisingly, if the geese fly east or west, the season is different and the limit is significantly different.
Because of this, farmers and landowners who have a blind or field west of Route 301 may receive $10,000 for hunting rent, where farmers and landowners east of Route 301 may only receive $1,000. This monetary disparity creates a financial disadvantage to farmers and landowners who live east of Route 301 in Charles County, or in St. Mary’s or Calvert Counties.
The reason Senator Bailey has filed this legislation is to even the playing field for the farmers, hunters, and landowners and the geese in Southern Maryland. While Senate Bill 930 as written only discusses Charles and St. Mary’s County, Senator Bailey has drafted an amendment to the bill to expand it to cover all of Southern Maryland equally. This bill will be heard on Wednesday, March 4 at 1:00 p.m. in Annapolis. Please email the Senator’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in providing testimony in support of this legislation.
Yesterday, Senator Bailey co-hosted an event in Annapolis with the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission (SMADC) that featured Southern Maryland beef, bourbon, and oysters. The purpose of this event was to give representatives of SMADC an opportunity to show how important their work is for Southern Maryland farmers. Senator Bailey serves as a member of SMADC’s Board, and has worked to secure state funding for their initiatives, including for the Regional Agricultural Center that will be constructed in Charlotte Hall.