In Pennsylvania, semiautomatic rifles, air guns could find their way into Special Regulations Areas after all

Semiautomatic rifles would need to be .22 caliber or less to hunt small game, woodchucks (pictured above) or furbearers within Special Regulations Areas.

When the Pennsylvania Game Commission approved the use of semiautomatic rifles and air guns for hunting small game and furbearers in April, the provision could not be extended to the state’s Special Regulations Areas, which are covered under a separate section of the law.

But a measure preliminarily approved Monday by the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners would allow hunters and trappers within Special Regulations Areas also to use semiautomatic rifles and air guns.

Only rimfire ammunition would be allowed when hunting or trapping with semiautomatic rifles in Special Regulations Areas, based on the proposal, which is scheduled for a final vote at the September meeting.

Special Regulations Areas include all of Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, and Ridley Creek and Tyler state parks during special controlled hunts.

Hunters within Special Regulations Areas must follow different guidelines than in other parts of the state, and are limited to using manually operated rimfire rifles, shotguns, muzzleloading long guns and archery equipment.

The amendment would add air rifles to that list, and lift the requirement that rimfire rifles be manually operated.

Air guns would need to be between .177 and .22 caliber when used within Special Regulations Areas to hunt small game, woodchucks or furbearers, based on the preliminarily approved measure.

Semiautomatic rifles would need to be .22 caliber or less to hunt small game, woodchucks or furbearers within Special Regulations Areas.

If the measure is adopted at the Sept. 26 meeting, it likely would take effect sometime in November or December.

Regulatory changes become official upon their publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, which usually takes about six weeks from the time a board approves such a change.

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