Hunter Access to Private Lands in Piedmont, Virginia

This study presents baseline information on the accessibility of private lands in the southern Piedmont of Virginia for hunting, fishing, and trapping. A questionnaire was mailed to 1,525 landowners in 4 rural counties. The typical respondent from the 973 analyzed questionnaires was a 55-year-old male who owned between 4.0 and 8.1ha. Land was posted by 53% of the landowners, yet only 10% totally prohibited hunting. Family members, friends, and local residents were more likely to be granted permission to hunt or fish than were outsiders. Trespassing and property abuse were reported by half the landowners. Problems with hunters and other recreationists probably increase selectivity by landowners, reducing recreational opportunities on private lands. Conservation organizations and wildlife agencies should continue to emphasize proper sportsman-landowner relationships, emphasizing recreational ethics and respect for property rights.

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