Letter – ‘Right to retrieve’ tramples others

Published 5:37 pm Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Another hunting season is over and landowners throughout southeastern Virginia have dealt with another season of frustration. 

Starting as early as August, hunters chase deer and bears with hounds, creating a host of issues for law enforcement and landowners alike. Dogs run across private property at will and their owners do nothing to stop it. In fact, they often encourage it by releasing their dogs along public roads or on small tracts, knowing their animals will cross land where they aren’t welcome. These hounds disrupt still-hunters, harass pets and livestock and create chaos for everyone. Hunters walk through private property at will, thanks to Virginia’s “right-to-retrieve” law.

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Despite growing calls for an end to trespassing hounds and the actions of hunters who use them, the Department of Wildlife Resources and state legislature have so far failed to provide any relief to landowners. The hound community has offered no solutions, either. Why should they? Private land becomes public when they run their hounds.

This isn’t going away. In fact, it will continue to get worse as Virginia’s population grows. Many of these new residents are moving to rural Virginia only to learn their private property becomes the domain of houndsmen and have no means of stopping them.

Members of the Virginia Property Rights Alliance, along with countless landowners throughout Virginia, are working to end this abuse of private property. We don’t want to abolish hunting with hounds. We simply want to end it on property where it is not welcome, but we can’t do it alone.

Landowners fed up with this abuse of private property must speak up. Write, call and email the DWR board, state delegates and local representatives and tell them this assault on private property must end.


Judge Charlton


Virginia Property Rights Alliance

Charlotte Courthouse