Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Range Permits Required Starting Next Month


The cost of shooting at Pennsylvania Game Commission-owned ranges is going up -- for non-hunters, anyway.

Up until now, anyone could shoot at any of the commission's 29 ranges statewide for free. But a regulation change that requires shooters to have either a valid hunting or furtaking license or a special range permit is set to go into effect next month.

Those permits will be effective from April 1 of this year until June 30, 2012. Starting next summer, they'll be valid from July 1 until June 30, just like a hunting license. They cost $30, are available at either the commission's "Outdoor Shop" at www.pgc.state.pa.us or its regional offices and are required for anyone 17 or older.

The only people who can shoot without a license or permit are children 16 and younger accompanied by a licensed or permitted adult 18 or older and one guest of a license or permit holder.

The new rule has two purposes: to require non-hunters to help pay for maintaining the ranges and to better track who those shooters are, said the commission's executive director, Carl Roe.

That latter issue is important, because the agency has spent a lot of money repairing damage done to the ranges, often at the hands of non-hunters, said commissioner Jay Delaney of Luzerne County.

The change is "long overdue," agreed commissioner Greg Isabella of Philadelphia.

There's a misconception among the public that the ranges are owned by the Commonwealth and maintained with tax dollars, he said. That's untrue, he said, pointing out that they are owned by the commission and supported largely - if not completely - by the sale of hunting licenses.

Isabella did warn, though, that the commission will have to work hard to make people aware of the new rule.

"We have a big (public relations) problem coming up. We need to get a lot of signage up. We need to get a lot of awareness out there," Isabella said.

Bill Capouillez, chief of the commission's bureau of wildlife habitat management, said the commission plans to put signs up at all of its ranges.

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