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Bill resulting from disagreements over deer at issue

| Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, 11:32 p.m.

Just in time for archery season, we've got another argument about white-tailed deer on our hands.

On Oct. 2, the House of Representatives State Government Committee is scheduled to vote on House Bill 2073. Sponsored by Rep. David Maloney of Berks County, it would put the Pennsylvania Game Commission under the authority of the Independent Regulatory Review Commission. That group would review every proposed wildlife regulation and recommend to lawmakers and the governor whether they are acceptable or not.

Make no mistake — this is all about deer.

Maloney has been highly critical of the Game Commission's deer program and said last fall he believes the agency is being unresponsive to hunters. This could change that, he said then.

But now, with word out that the bill might be amended to put the Fish and Boat Commission under review, too, some sportsmen are rallying against it. The Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs will on Monday ship a letter to members of the State Government Committee asking that they vote against the bill. It's also asking hunters to carry the same message to their local lawmakers.

“We've heard that the members are being flooded with emails. We hope to keep that pressure up,” said Melody Zullinger, former executive director of the Federation who now consults with the group.

The letter notes both the Game and Fish and Boat commissions already have to conduct their business publicly. Adding the Review Commission would just slow things down, to the point that the Game Commission in particular would have to set seasons and bag limits more than a year in advance.

“Members of IRRC (a purely political group, appointed by legislators, with absolutely no expertise or experience in wildlife management, habitat management or sportsmen's issues, and who may or may not be anti-hunters) and the legislature will get final say on every single proposed regulation,” the letter reads.

“Just by failing to act in a timely manner ... they could literally cripple our agencies' ability to effectively manage our wildlife resources in a manner conducive to sportsmen's and/or the resources' best interests.” The letter is signed by president Chuck Lombaerde.

Stan Rice, moderator of the HuntingPa.com forum, also opposes the bill because it would impact regulations for all species, along with things like game lands purchases.

“Oppose the deer program if you must. Hate the Game Commission if you must. But understand, this bill is deadly poison to our sport in this state,” Rice said.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at bfrye@tribweb.com or 724-838-5148.

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