Pennsylvania Farm Bureau affirmed its opposition to a Senate-passed bill that would expand Sunday hunting opportunities across the state during recent testimony before the state House Game and Fisheries Committee.
“Pennsylvania farmers continue to oppose Senate Bill 147 as it is currently written,” said Darrin Youker, state government affairs director for Farm Bureau. “We acknowledge that an amended version of the original bill moved closer to meeting the criteria under which Farm Bureau could take a neutral position, but it fell short of the mark.”
One of the key stumbling blocks preventing Farm Bureau from taking a neutral position on Senate Bill 147 is that the bill fails to include language requiring hunters to obtain written permission to hunt on private land.
“Farmers don’t understand why any person who is interested in legally hunting in Pennsylvania would oppose obtaining written permission from the landowner prior to hunting on their land,” he said. “Currently, hunters are required to obtain verbal permission from landowners, but many hunters fail to do so and are illegally hunting on private land. Written permission would improve hunter-landowner relations and provide hunters with proof they are legally engaging in the recreational activity.”
Farm Bureau notes that the move to allow Sunday hunting has failed to increase hunter numbers in other states. New York has seen a decline of 115,000 hunters since 2001, Ohio has lost nearly 37,000 hunters since 2002 and Virginia has seen license sales drop by 42,000 since 2009.
Only three states ban Sunday hunting: Maine, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Maryland allows Sunday hunting but limits it to certain counties and on certain dates.
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is also asking members of the General Assembly to pass a so-called “purple paint” bill, sponsored by Rep. Dawn Keefer, which would allow landowners to mark their property boundaries with purple paint stripes on trees and fence posts. Those markings would have the same legal implications as traditional “No Trespassing” or “No Hunting” signs.
Limited Sunday hunts
According to news reports, Senate Bill 147 would open hunting on just three Sundays: one Sunday during firearms season for deer; one Sunday during archery season for deer; and a third Sunday to be set by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
The bill also elevates trespassing while hunting to a higher-level offense and includes loss of hunting license as part of the penalty for a second offense.
According to Pennlive.com, Farm Bureau has considered taking a neutral position on Sunday hunting if it was given all the following:
- Hunting is expanded to include antlerless deer and woodchucks only.
- Sunday hunting for antlerless deer be limited to the first Sunday of archery season; the first Sunday of flintlock season; and the Friday, Saturday and Sunday after the Thanksgiving holiday.
- Hunting-related trespassing be made a primary offense, enforceable by the commission.
- Hunters caught trespassing more than once in a calendar year lose their hunting license for one year.
- Penalties for private property and hunting trespassing violations occurring on Sunday be doubled.
- Hunting be allowed only with written private landowner permission.
- Hunting for deer be allowed on state game lands and state forests if private landowners living adjacent to those public lands are provided “No Sunday Hunting” signage free of charge when the landowners request the signage.
There are big changes to this year’s hunting season, including the opening of rifle deer hunting season on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 30.
You can read all the changes and this year’s season dates and bag limits online.Source: Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.