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HARRISBURG, PA — State Sen. Dan Laughlin, who has been appointed as chair of the Senate Game & Fisheries Committee for the 2019-20 legislative session, said that one of his priorities in the position is to try once again to legalize Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania.
In all the states surrounding Pennsylvania, hunting is allowed on Sunday. Laughlin introduced legislation last year that would have introduced Sunday hunting for deer, but he couldn’t get the necessary support from his colleagues. Laughlin has said that he thinks there is enough support now to get six Sundays cleared for hunting. He envisions one during spring turkey season, another during bear season, and four in dear season, split between archery season and rifle deer season.
Laughlin’s legislation is cosponsored by State Sen. James Brewster. The pair have revised their legislation from last year to increase penalties for trespassing while hunting. The two believe this will help them gain support from the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB), which has strongly opposed Sunday hunting in the past. At the annual meeting of the PFB in the fall of 2018, however, 75% of members in attendance indicated opposition to Sunday hunting.
PFB is not the only public organization to oppose it. “At the January meeting of the Keystone Trails Association’s (KTA) board of directors, the board reaffirmed the organization’s opposition to any expansion of Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania,” said news release from the organization. Members of KTA are not comfortable hiking in the same woods as hunters, according to the board.
Supporters, however, argue that Sunday hunting would help attract more young people to the sport. According to Harold Daub, executive director of the Hunters United for Sunday Hunting, the state is losing hunters at a quick rate. As every 100 hunters retire from the sport, they are replaced by only 65 new hunters. Fees from hunting licenses pay for many conservation efforts in the state, and officials would like to keep the funding stream flowing.
New deer season open
Also in hunting news, the Pennsylvania Game Commissions this year will consider changing the opening day of rifle deer season to the Saturday after Thanksgiving rather than the Monday after Thanksgiving. The commissioners will vote on the matter in April.
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners will hold its first quarterly meeting of 2019, from Jan. 27 through 29 at the agency’s Harrisburg headquarters. The Game Commission’s headquarters is located at 2001 Elmerton Ave., just off the Progress Avenue exit of Interstate 81 in Harrisburg.
On Sunday, Jan. 27, beginning at 1 p.m., the commissioners will hear public recommendations for 2019-2020 hunting and furtaking seasons and bag limits.
On Monday, Jan. 28, the board will gather any additional public comments and hear Game Commission staff reports beginning at 8:30 a.m.