Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bill Would Allow Deer Hunting on Sundays

A group representing Pennsylvania farmers is opposing legislation to extend deer hunting to Sundays.

The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau says its members own about 80% of the "huntable" land in the state, and the proposed expansion is opposed by the "vast majority" of the landowners.

Farm Bureau spokesman Joel Rotz says most farmers simply don't want to be disturbed by hunters on Sundays.

Foxes, coyotes, and blackbirds are fair game on Sundays already. But Rotz says some hunters argue there aren't enough opportunities to hunt large game on Sundays.

"If you look at the current seasons and bag limits of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, there's actually some type of deer hunting available 103 days a year in the state of Pennsylvania right now," says Rotz. "While that does not include any Sundays, that's 103 days, [including] 18 Saturdays."

The bill's sponsor, Representative John Evans, says he disagrees with the Farm Bureau's position because the bill would not change the hunting season or infringe on landowners' rights.

"Any private landowner can post their land, saying that they do not wish to have Sunday hunting. That can be done at any time," says Evans. "So the restriction they're making, by not supporting Sunday hunting, doesn't bring into account private landowners who are non-farmers. They are not allowed to hunt on their land on a Sunday."

The Erie County Republican says the "moratorium" is also contributing to a decline in the number of youth hunters in the state, because school schedules leave only Saturdays available for hunting.

Evans says the state is losing close to $1 billion a year that would be generated by more and longer hunting trips. Rotz says the Farm Bureau is skeptical of that number.

Evans says he'll introduce the bill to the House Game and Fisheries Committee soon.

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