Sunday, July 3, 2011

Game Commission In Favor Sunday Hunting As Debate Heats Up

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Pennsylvania Game Commission officially has entered the fray.
At their meeting in Harrisburg this past week, commissioners — for the first time ever — adopted a resolution urging state lawmakers to repeal Pennsylvania`s long-standing prohibition on Sunday hunting. It didn`t come easily, though.
The idea passed by a 4-3 vote, with commissioner Greg Isabella of Philadelphia — who had supported a failed move to table the resolution minutes earlier — abstaining. 
Commissioner Jay Delaney of Luzerne County put the resolution forward. It cites a litany of potential benefits to Sunday hunting: a doubling of the number of days school children and camp owners can hunt, economic benefits for rural communities and business owners, new revenues for the commission through increased license sales, and another management tool for biologists.
Commissioner Ralph Martone of Lawrence County endorsed it.
"I am dismayed we are even talking about this issue in 2011," Martone said. "I think it`s 30 years later than we should be doing it. Society has changed and we haven`t, and I think it`s time we move forward on this issue."
Commissioners Dave Putnam of Centre County and Bob Schlemmer of Westmoreland County also supported the resolution.
Commissioners Tom Boop of Northumerland County, Dave Schreffler of Bedford County and Ron Weaner of Adams County did not. They cited a number of reasons, including a concern that many farmers and other private landowners — who Boop said provide about 80 percent of all the huntable land in Pennsylvania — don`t want it.
Boop also said the people pushing this idea want Sunday hunting for deer, and that will bring consequences in the form of shorter seasons.
"Sportsmen are starting to talk at their clubs, and amongst themselves, and they`re starting to realize that this might not be such a good idea in terms of reality and what might happen," Boop said.
Delaney and Martone disagreed, saying that — if given the OK to include Sundays — their intent would be to add the days to the small game schedule for the sake of youths.
They may get their chance. State Rep. John Evans, a Crawford County Republican, introduced House Bill 1760 on the same day commissioners adopted their resolution. It would not mandate Sunday hunting, but would remove the prohibition against it — which dates to 1873 — so that the commission could open Sundays to hunting if it chose to do so.
Sunday hunting is something 39 other states already allow. And that`s why the commission acted on the resolution, Delaney said.
"The debate is now," he said.

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