HB 529 encourages hunting and agri-tourism - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

HB 529 encourages hunting and agri-tourism

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By Delivrine Registre - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Every year hundreds track through acres of wire grass with their shot guns in hand, ready to hunt quail and deer in Southwest Georgia. But places to hunt are becoming fewer and far between.

"We used to be able to go to farmers and ask to hunt on their land. But one thing that has really increased is the liability," said Robert Chester.

Robert Chester is the chairman for Quail Unlimited in Albany, and deals with this fact every year. He says it is because of this that what was once every man's hobby is now reserved for those with money.

"You look at some of these large tracks of land that are 1800 to 2000 acres that some people are now leasing, and you are looking at almost half of your money going to liability insurance," said Chester.

House Bill 529 now limits the liability on landowners who open up their properties for hunting, fall hay rides or peach picking. The law will protect property owners from being sued for accidents on their land except those due to gross negligence.

"It's not an end all to everything, but it certainly is moving us forward," said Chester.

Govorner Sonny Perdue also said this will bring in more money to the state. And Chester agrees and sees it first hand every year with the 42 propertied involved with the Celebrity Quail Hunt.

"With that we brought in $750,000 into the local area." But Chester says it is more than just the money.

"A lot of the people that come back year after year after year have fallen in love with Southwest Georgia, and they will tell you that up front. And those are the people you want to come back because they come back three or four times a year for hunting, visiting and shopping," said Chester.

That is exactly what the state needs especially during the recession. This bill will also help preserve natural habitat throughout the state.

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