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Regional

Sunday hunting clears first hurdle in state Senate

Mary Ann Thomas
| Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, 6:39 p.m.
Metrocreative

The State Senate Game and Fisheries Committee Tuesday approved legislation for the Pennsylvania Game Commission to allow Sunday hunting.

The bill still has to go to the Senate floor for a vote and then to the state House for approval before being sent to Gov. Tom Wolf.

Efforts over the years to include Sundays for hunting have not been successful. Currently, hunting on Sundays in the state is limited to coyotes, foxes and crows.

The latest bill calls for up to 14 Sundays to be open for hunting at the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s discretion, according to Matthew D. Azeles, chief of staff for Sen. Dan Laughlin, R-Erie, who is the committee chair and prime sponsor of the bill.

The days would be anchored during weekends of different hunting seasons, Azeles said.

“This is a historic vote, as it takes a major step toward increasing recreational opportunities for the thousands of Pennsylvania sportsmen and women who enjoy hunting,” said Senator Laughlin. “This will remove one of only two ‘Blue Laws’ remaining in the state of Pennsylvania. You can’t hunt and you can’t buy a car on Sunday in Pennsylvania.”

Sen. Jim Brewster, D-McKeesport, minority chair of the Game and Fisheries Committee, voted for the bill.

“Hunting on Sundays will generate additional revenue that can be used to help define and eliminate the Chronic Wasting Disease, which is wiping out deer,” said Tim Joyce, Brewster’s chief of staff.

The expectation is that having an extra weekend day to hunt will bring out more hunters who will buy more hunting licenses, Joyce said.

“We need to get more money to study this disease without raising taxes,” he said.

Brewster’s constituents called with pro- and con- views on the bill, according to Joyce.

“The Game Commission is calling for hunting on special Sundays, not every Sunday, especially during the colder months when a lot of people aren’t out in the woods hiking,” he said.

“We’re trying to reach a happy medium,” Joyce said. “We can raise additional money and not hurt folks who like to hike and travel.”

The Keystone Trails Association’s Board of Directors oppose Sunday hunting.

The trail association told state lawmakers “that any economic gains realized due to hunters heading afield on Sundays could be more than offset by hikers, birdwatchers and other non-hunting outdoor recreation enthusiasts staying home on Sundays,” according to Lancaster Online.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary Ann at 724-226-4691, mthomas@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.

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