On Wednesday, November 27, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, the Democratic Co-Chair of the Governor’s Sportsmen’s Caucus, signed into law S. 147, marking the most significant progress ever realized in the effort to overturn the state’s more than three-centuries old prohibition on Sunday hunting for game species.
In recognition of today’s significant victory for the Pennsylvania hunting community, Governor Wolf stated, “I’d like to recognize and thank the members of the General Assembly that compromised to get Senate Bill 147 to my desk. This compromise represents a step forward for our outdoors enthusiasts, while also addressing concerns raised by other citizens. This bill will provide new opportunities for hunters, especially those in high school and college, to partake in one of Pennsylvania’s most cherished pastimes and traditions.”
S. 147 authorizes one day of deer hunting on Sundays during the archery season, one day of deer hunting during the firearm season, and one day to be left to the discretion of the Pennsylvania Game Commission for species and seasons yet to be determined. Prior to the bill being signed into law, only foxes, crows, and coyotes were able to be hunted on Sundays. In addition to the Sunday hunting allowances, the final bill text also strengthens trespassing penalties, and requires written permission from landowners for sportsmen and women hunting on private land.
“The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) would like to thank the Governor and the Pennsylvania Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus for recognizing the importance of sustaining our hunting traditions in the Keystone State,” said CSF President Jeff Crane. “With so much of our time being taken up by other extracurricular activities and family obligations, allowing Sunday hunting will enable our fellow hunters the opportunity to get outdoors and participate in a tradition that is meaningful to them.”
The bill was shepherded throughout the legislative process by bill sponsor Sen. Dan Laughlin, a Co-Chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus who worked closely with in-state and national members of the sportsmen’s community. Other Caucus Co-Chairs and members were likewise key participants in securing bill passage with strong bi-partisan votes in both chambers, and in a concurrence vote in the Senate on Monday.
CSF has been a strong advocate for a change in Sunday hunting policy in Pennsylvania for over a decade, and has testified before committees in person and provided written testimony in support of expanding hunting opportunities for Pennsylvania’s more than 850,000 hunters on multiple occasions.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?