October 5, 2020

Night-Vision Optics Approved for Furbearer Hunting in Pennsylvania

Contact: Brent Miller, Northeastern States Senior Director and States Program Team Administrator

On September 26, the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners approved regulations to allow handheld and firearms-mounted thermal and night-vision optics for furbearer hunting. This regulatory change was made possible due to the passage of HB 1188 which was supported by numerous members of the bipartisan and bicameral Pennsylvania Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and signed into law by Governor Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Tom Wolf on July 1.

As reported in a release from the Pennsylvania Game Commission, prior to the adoption of these regulations the agency undertook an evaluation of data from other states that permit this technology afield and found no safety concerns relative to using night-vision and thermal optics for furbearer hunting in Pennsylvania.

On the final approval, Board President Charlie Fox said, “Following the passage of HB 1188, the Board of Commissioners was flooded with comments asking for prompt adoption of regulations permitting the use of night-vision equipment. The board did just that, and hunters now will be able to use these devices this year, and at a time when furbearer pelts are becoming prime. This equipment will provide furbearer hunters an additional tool that will allow them to be more efficient and safe when hunting at night.”

For hunters in Pennsylvania, the change will become effective in 6-8 weeks, at which time the Game Commission will issue a notification.  

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?

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