Survey responses showed there was support for using semi-automatic guns for furbearers and groundhogs, but not for big game.
Modifications would include implementing a new four-day extended black bear firearms season in WMUs 4A and 5A and increasing from four days to six days the length of the extended black bear firearms season in WMU 3A.
The Game Commission historically has permitted the use of semiautomatic shotguns for deer and bear seasons within its special regulations areas near Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. The preliminarily approved proposal would extend this authorization to the remainder of the Commonwealth, as well as permit semiautomatic shotguns using single-projectile ammunition for elk hunting.
Opportunities to hunt small game, deer, waterfowl and furbearers either are available now, or will be soon.
During the 2015-16 hunting season, hunters reportedly killed more than 38,600 coyotes. That number nearly doubled in a decade.
General adult hunting licenses statewide reportedly have declined by more than 10 percent over the past decade. Perhaps more alarming: General junior licenses have been cut in half during that time, although junior combination licenses – which allow the hunting of deer, turkey and small game – have held steady.
Extensive rain on the season’s opening day led to the harvest decline, Game Commission says.
Hunters harvested 318 bears, raising the three-day total to 1,628 – about a 30-percent decrease compared to 2016. Extensive rain on the season’s opening day blamed for decline.
From a public relations perspective, the commission clearly lost points with its “customers” — the hunters and guides.