Monday, January 30th, 2023
Monday, January 30th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Unifieds give legislators a plan for license fee hikes

By Jeff
Mulhollem
Editor

Altoona, Pa. – Members of he state Senate and House Game and
Fisheries committees were presented with a wide-ranging proposal
for a hunting license fee-increase package by the Unified Sportsmen
of Pennsylvania in mid-September.

Unveiled just before Pennsylvania Outdoor News’ deadline for
this issue, most officials had not yet seen or had an opportunity
to review the document and would not comment on it. According to
Unified leaders, the group’s proposal should be seen as an
alternative to bills already introduced calling for an increase in
hunting licenses.

It was still unclear by press time whether members of the
legislative committees were taking the proposal seriously or
intended to act on it. By some measures, the Unified Sportsmen of
Pennsylvania is the second-largest group representing hunters in
the state.

Earlier this year when Rep. Bruce Smith, R-Cumberland and York
counties, chairman of the House Game and Fisheries Committee,
introduced bills calling for increases in fees for hunting
licenses, he intentionally did not include the Unified Sportsmen in
a coalition he assembled to support his efforts.

Smith noted that because the Unified had filed a lawsuit against
the Pennsylvania Game Commission over deer management, the group’s
members could not appropriately participate in a discussion on
agency funding.

After the Unified Sportsmen protested its leaders not being
permitted to testify at Smith’s proceedings, Rep. Gorden Denlinger,
R-Lancaster County, reportedly asked the Unified Sportsmen to
produce a formal hunting license proposal. The just-released
document is in response to that request, according to Unified
leaders.

&#8220This hunting license increase proposal would grant the
Pennsylvania Game Commission a moderate and fair funding increase,”
states a letter to the Game and Fisheries committees members signed
by Unified leaders Charles Bolgiano, Greg Levengood and Bill
Miller. &#8220In addition, this proposal addresses legislative
suggestions designed to initiate curative action that would
directly influence many of the concerns sportsmen share.

&#8220The value of hunting is not only about hunting per se,
but also includes items directly attributed to administration of
the Pennsylvania Game Commis-sion,” the letter continues.
&#8220Like most all responsibilities falling under the umbrella
of legislative authority, strong leadership from both the Senate
and House Game and Fisheries committees is essential.”

The Unified proposal recommends a $30 hunting license consisting
of one antlered tag and one antlerless tag be adopted.
&#8220Each hunter will receive his or her antlerless tag as
part of the general license at the time and location of his or her
license purchase,” the document states. &#8220The current
lottery system of mailing for antlerless tags will be eliminated in
its entirety.”

Other provisions in the Unified proposal – a few ambiguous, some
apparently going against current legislative mandates, many certain
to raise the ire of other sportsmen’s groups and others sure to
generate disdain from Game Commission biologists, include:

n No hunter in Pennsylvania would be permitted to harvest more
than one antlerless deer per season;

n Return to the old system of a two-week buck season followed by
a three-day antlerless deer season;

n The antlerless tag may only be used during the two-week buck
season, the archery season, the early muzzleloader season and the
late flintlock season;

n A properly licensed hunter is only allowed to harvest two deer
per season except in special regulations areas;

n Create a $10 annual pheasant stamp with funds dedicated to
pheasant habitat, rearing and release;

n A turkey stamp is not recommended, as no additional monies are
required for the propagation (rearing and releasing of
turkeys);

n A resident bear-hunting license increase from $16 to $20;

n A nonresident bear-hunting license from $35 to $40.

n A nonresident adult hunting license that conforms to the
reciprocal cost of the applicant’s home state;

n A resident and nonresident adult archery license increase of
$15 to $20 for residents and $25 to $30 for nonresidents;

n The use of (inline muzzleloading) rifles during the early
muzzleloading season shall cease to be an option;

n All other permits, except for juniors and military, shall
increase by 25 percent for resident and 35 percent for
nonresidents.

The Unified proposal maintains that a sure-to-be-controversial
list of &#8220conditions” be insisted on by lawmakers before
granting any hunting license increases. They include:

– Habitat: A sustainable timber harvest of 1 percent of timber
resources (on state game lands) be realized annually by the Game
Commission;

– Deer population: A sustainable, accurate and verifiable
harvest of a minimum of 150,000 antlered deer be reached by the
year 2010;

– Wildlife management: The commission’s bureau of wildlife
management be reorganized into a bureau of game species, funded
entirely by hunting license proceeds, and a bureau of non-game
species be created, funded by state general fund money;

– Communications: The Game Commission will operate in such a
manner to reassure sportsmen that its operations and obligations
are directly serving the best interest of sportsmen, the wildlife
resource and game lands;

– Deer Management: The recommendations of the Pennsyl-vania Deer
Management Working Group be revisited by the Legislature and
portions be codified;

– DCNR influence: &#8220The continuing influence of the
state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources threatens
the independence of the Game Commission.” Remove DCNR from Game
Commission decision-making processes, including deer management and
commissioner selection;

– Predator control: Place a bounty on mountain lions, coyotes
and wolf-coyote hybrids to solve the problem with too many
predators.

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