Groups Weigh In on Laughlin's Proposed Sunday Hunting Bill
The Pennsylvania House Game and Fisheries Committee gathered input from stakeholders on the proposed Sunday Hunting Bill. Senate Bill 147 was introduced by Senator Dan Laughlin (R- Erie), and passed the Senate at the end of the last session.
Senate Bill 147 would allow hunters to spend a few extra days in the woods. Senator Laughlin says among other things, this will give hunting families more time to spend together.
“I experienced it with my own children as I was raising them. A busy six days a week. This will give them an opportunity to get out and enjoy the woods and be outdoors with their children,” Senator Laughlin said during a June 2019 interview with Erie News Now.
This legislation would allow for hunting on three Sundays in Pennsylvania. One Sunday would be during general archery season, and another Sunday would be during deer rifle season. The third Sunday would be at the discretion of the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The PA Federation of Sportsmen and Conservationists says various polls show the majority of residents want Sunday hunting.
“The results that we’ve been able to tabulate indicate an average of 80% approval for allowing hunting on Sunday,” says Harold Daub, Executive Director of the PA Federation of Sportsmen and Conservationists. “We thank you for your efforts in helping to repeal this 337-year-old Blue Law, and help Pennsylvania catch up with modern day wildlife management,” Daub adds.
But there are some groups against the Sunday Hunting Bill. The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and the Keystone Trails Association, for example. The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau says repeated trespassing poses problems for farmers, and adding another day would contribute to those problems.
Joe Neville, Executive Director of the Keystone Trails Association, says Sunday hunting would pose a safety risk to hikers who go out on the current hunter-less Sundays.
“The hiking community is really concerned with having hunters in the woods on Sunday. It’s traditionally a day where they go out during the Fall hunting seasons to avoid hunters. In other words, they would like that day free of hunting in the woods,” Neville explains.
Groups on both sides of the argument also made claims that Sunday hunting would either help or hurt the Pennsylvania economy, depending on which side of the argument they were on.
Senate Bill 147 would also make trespassing while hunting a primary offense, which would increase penalties for any violators.
If the House Game and Fisheries Committee moves the Bill back to the House floor, and the House approves the Bill, it will then head to the Governor's desk, where it would be up to him to sign it into law.