Sunday, July 21, 2013

Pennsylvania Sunday Hunting Lawsuit Is Filed

By Bob Frye

The battle is on.

Hunters United for Sunday Hunting and Kathy Davis of Speers filed a lawsuit in Middle District federal court in Harrisburg this past week seeking to have the state's prohibition against hunting on Sundays lifted. It claims the ban is unconstitutional under the First, Second and 14th amendments.

Attorney Peter Russo of Mechanicsburg writes in the suit that the Supreme Court has, in recent decisions, held hunting to be guaranteed by the right to bear arms. That's not been the case before, Davis said.

“That is hugely watershed,” she said.

Russo also writes the ban creates separate classes of citizens who are treated unequally. What's more, the “blue law” — designed to enforce religious standards — behind it no longer makes sense when people can gamble, buy alcohol, shop and more on Sundays, he writes.
The suit names the Pennsylvania Game Commission as the defendant, even though the agency in 2010 adopted a resolution supporting Sunday hunting.

“You can't sue a state over this. You have to sue the regulatory authority. So it's a bit of an oddball situation where we're actually suing an agency that supports our position,” admitted Brad Gehman of Lancaster County, another Hunters United board member. “It's weird.”

But the lawsuit is necessary because state lawmakers have repeatedly failed to overturn the ban on their own, said Josh First of Harrisburg, a board member for Hunters United.

“The legislature is paralyzed on this issue. So we have no other way to achieve our goal,” he said. “We're stuck.”

Lawmakers have held hearings on and debated various bills that would have either allowed Sunday hunting for specific species or given the Game Commission authority to decide whether to include Sundays in seasons. None went anywhere.

Neither Gary Haluska nor Marc Gergely, Democratic members of the House of Representatives game and fisheries committee from Cambria and Allegheny counties, respectively, could be reached to say why that is.

The Game Commission won't act as legislative guidance, though.

“It is our position that we lack the authority to lift the prohibition,” spokesman Travis Lau said, noting it was lawmakers who legalized the hunting of crows, foxes and coyotes on Sundays previously.

First doesn't disagree. But if the courts say the commission can roll Sundays into hunting seasons, the legislature likely will get involved and come up with guidelines, he said.
Families will be the main beneficiaries, Gehman said.

“Hunting is a family-building recreation,” Gehman said. “That's why we're doing this. We want to let kids get out and hunt when it fits their schedules. That's what this is all about.”

Ten other states ban Sunday hunting, but those rules are being contested, too. Safari Club International is looking into challenging the ban in Virginia.

All those laws ultimately will fall, First predicted, and that will help secure hunting's future.
“This is about having enough people who hunt, shoot and trap in the future so that we have a political presence,” he said


Anonymous said...

Wow, I just found this posted on another site. Very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Hush is not a legitimate sportsmen group.

Anonymous said...

Is There an Environmentally Extreme Agenda Behind H.U.S.H?


Exactly who is HUSH (short for Hunters United for Sunday Hunting). That is the question everyone is asking. That is what we have explored and the results are not quite fitting in with hushes claims that this is all about the future of hunting, constitutionality etc. Many believe they are just politically driven environmentalists as opposed to the "hunter advocates" they would like legislators and others to believe.

Lets take an in depth look at the 4 people who make up HUSH and their motives for doing so.

First, we start with Kathy Davis, the groups founder. A known enviroextreme type, Kathy has pushed and lobbied for legislation and regulation that would lower the states deer herd for years. The causes she has championed pretty much mirror those suggested by the audubon deer forum for things "needed" to further reduce the deer herd. She has also many environmental connections, and has voted for further herd reductions on a citizen advisory committee where she took part, even though the Pa Game Commission had a set goal of stabilization. She was voted down by the majority of the other participants on the committee, and her initiative failed. She had also had an interest in obtaining a PGC commissioner seat for unit 2A, but her attempt was quashed by concerned sportsmen voicing concerns over the proposed nominee. Ms. Davis has also alienated several legislators with her percieved extremism and dogged determination when it comes to her misguided lobbying efforts. There are also multiple pgc commissioners that have also said they have "tuned her out" for the same reasons. Some members of one of the larger sportsmen groups in the state, apparently confused by so much percieved extremism, have actually inquired about her being an ANTI-hunter.

Vern Ross, another of the hush members is, interestingly enough, the former executive director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission who was a driving force behind getting deer herd reduction into place. Vern will forever be looked back upon as one of the most controversial figures in Pa game management history for the role he played in forever changing Pa deer management under the Ridge administrations deer program.

Anonymous said...


Don Heckman, a very active participant when it came to weighing in on game issues, has consistently voiced strong support for the deer management plan and reductions. Taking a very extreme stance on the issue for years. A very adament supporter of the Pa Game Commission deer plan, as were some of his close nwtf colleagues. Mr. Heckman has certainly done some good things for wild turkey management in the state, and that should not go ignored in this brief summary.

Josh First. Mr. First has quite the lengthy list of environmentalist ties. He is also very active in the environmental arena, so much so, he was pointed to as being an environmental extremist by one of the states largest sportsmen groups who opposed his nomination when he tried to gain an appointment to the Pa game commissions board of commissioners. He has also worked at the Environmental Protection Agency, Dcnr (under Tom Ridge) is on the policy council of 10,000 friends of Pennsylvania and is coordinator for 'Pa Habitat Alliance' which is headed by the Audubon Society. His environmentalism resume is far too lengthy to list here, but much informtion is available online. Mr. First also made a failed attempt to gain the senatorial seat of Pa district 15 in 2012.

Many believe that these people are nothing more than very willing pawns in the "deer wars" and it certainly looks that this may indeed be the case. Sunday hunting would go a long way towards being able to harvest more deer, and thereby further what some are calling an "environmentally extreme" agenda.

It is our belief that the unsupportable deer herd reductions and resulting maleffects of extremely low hunter satisfaction and drop out is very damaging to our hunting heritage in Pennsylvania and it has gone on long enough.


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