Bill would allow Game Commission to designate Sunday hunting days | Local News

By John Finnerty

CNHI Harrisburg Bureau

A Senate bill would completely lift state restrictions on Sunday hunting a year after the state first allowed Sunday hunting on a limited basis.

Law 107 of 2019, introduced as Senate Law 147, allowed the Pennsylvania Game Commission to designate three Sundays for hunting.

Sunday hunting debuted in Pennsylvania last year, with hunting legal on Sunday November 15 for archery hunting and the following two Sundays for firearm and deer season.

Senate Law 607 would completely lift the Sunday hunting ban and allow the Game Commission to determine how many hunting seasons should include Sunday hunting.

The move to allow hunting on Sunday has long been opposed by farm groups who said landowners don’t want to be interested in having hunters on Sunday.

The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, which did not speak out against Senate Law 147, is against Senate Law 607, said Liam Migdail, a spokesman for the Farm Bureau.

Vince Phillips, a retired Pennsylvania Grange lobbyist, said the move to lift the Sunday hunting ban entirely came as no surprise and was a move opponents feared it would follow after lawmakers approve limited expansion in 2019 would have.

“The lifting of the hunting ban on Sunday was like the proverbial camel with its nose under the tent,” he said.

Migdail said the Farm Bureau dropped its opposition to SB 147 because that law contained compromises to address landowners’ concerns.

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“Senate Bill 607 would break that compromise by granting the Game Commission a carte blanche to establish Sunday hunting rules,” he said. “Taking decisions about Sunday hunting away from the General Assembly would seriously affect the ability of landowners to have their voices heard through their elected representatives,” he said.

The new legislation was introduced on April 27 by Senator Dan Laughlin, R-Erie County, chairman of the Senate Wildlife and Fisheries Committee. Laughlin was also the primary sponsor of Senate Law 147, which became Law 107.

“These three days were extremely successful and exceptionally safe. The wildlife commission reported no shooting incidents during those days. In addition, the implementation of the three Sundays contributed to the increase of 25,152 licenses sold in the previous year. The additional options available to hunters pay off tremendously, ”said Laughlin.

By May 31, the Game Commission had sold 886,654 general hunting licenses, said Travis Lau, a spokesman for the Game Commission. The Game Commission’s fiscal year ends June 30, and last year only about 500 hunting licenses were sold in June, he said.

The number of hunting licenses sold in 2020-2021 was more than in the previous three years.

According to the Game Commission, 941,970 shunting licenses were sold between 2009 and 2010.

“In the past 40 years, hunting license sales across the country have steadily declined. Countless surveys and research have been conducted to determine the cause of this decline. The most common response to why people stop hunting is time and again “lack of time,” Laughlin said in a memo asking for support for SB 607.

Lau said Game Commission polls suggest license sales rose after the state moved the opening day of the deer hunting season from the Monday after Thanksgiving to the Saturday after the holidays in 2019.

“We don’t yet have any data to show how Sunday hunting contributed to this year’s increase. But we’re doing two separate surveys this spring / summer to find out more about the impact of the Sunday season on license purchases, ”he said.

Senate Bill 607 has been referred to the Senate Wildlife and Fisheries Committee, but no vote is planned on the bill.

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