Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners Backs Sportsmen’s Efforts During Latest Meeting

Contact: Nick Lewis, Mid-Atlantic States Coordinator

Highlights

  • The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners recently held their July meeting, tackling several pressing issues for sportsmen and women of the Keystone State.
  • The Board adopted new mentored hunting opportunities, allowing the mentored individuals to pursue waterfowl and bear this upcoming season, in addition to several other species.
  • Additionally, the Board adopted rules allowing for the use of straight-walled cartridges in certain areas, meaning hunters can choose from a broader range of firearms tailored to their specific hunting needs.
  • Most notably, PGC backed a Pennsylvania Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus effort to expand Sunday hunting by repealing the remaining statutory restrictions. CSF submitted testimony in support of this legislative effort this summer.

Why it Matters: The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) serves as the lead regulatory agency for wildlife in the state, working in conjunction with the sportsmen’s community to conserve wildlife species. The PGC Board of Game Commissioners (Board) is the governing body for the PGC and are responsible for establishing policy for the agency. The recent actions by the PGC and the Board reaffirm the longstanding principle that hunters are the original conservationists. With the 2021-2022 hunting season approaching, PGC’s efforts to expand existing opportunities for mentored hunters and supporting new hunting opportunities reinforces their continued commitment to promote and advance policies that celebrate our nation’s time-honored sporting traditions.

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners (Board) approved expanding mentored hunting opportunities in their recent meeting, marking an important step for the recruitment of new hunters. This program will allow new and novice hunters the opportunity to hunt deer and bear under the supervision of a licensed hunter until they complete their hunter education course. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has long backed recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) efforts nationwide as a way to bolster license sales, as they are a critical component of the unique “user pays – public benefits” structure known as the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF).

In other efforts, the Board announced that it had adopted rules to allow the use of straight-walled cartridges in special regulation areas within the state where centerfire rifles are not currently allowed. This step gives hunters more flexibility when choosing a firearm suitable to their hunting conditions. Additionally, straight-walled cartridges are a popular alternative for rifled shotgun hunters because they have considerably less recoil and better accuracy. These characteristics, particularly the decreased recoil, make them a beneficial tool for recruiting youth, and other individuals, into the sportsmen’s community.

Additionally, the Board adopted a resolution in support of legislation that would expand Sunday hunting to bolster hunting opportunity, support local economies, and provide additional funding through the ASCF. This Caucus-driven legislation was authored by Pennsylvania Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Dan Laughlin and would remove the remaining statutory restrictions on Sunday hunting, allowing the PGC to initiate a regulation process to handle the issue. CSF submitted written testimony to the Senate Game & Fisheries Committee in support of this bill, which was subsequently favorably reported out of Committee.

CSF commends the Board for their efforts to expand opportunities for sportsmen and women in the Keystone State and will continue to work with the Pennsylvania Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus towards the repeal of antiquated restrictions such as those currently in place on most Sundays in the years ahead.

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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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