Pa. lawmaker's corny proposal
Last week we commented on the discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease in three wild deer in southcentral Pennsylvania counties. This is serious stuff, folks, because if CWD spreads it will have a devastating impact on the wild deer population, not to mention the economic impact it would have because of a reduced number of hunters. As a result, officials in New York and in Pennsylvania discourage the feeding of wildlife, especially deer, because an artificially placed food source congregates deer and this could contribute to the spread of the disease. In fact, feeding deer or moose is just plain illegal here in New York, while Pennsylvania specifically prevents the feeding of bear and elk.
In a perfect example of the inmates wanting to run the asylum, an elected official in Pennsylvania wants to legalize the use of corn as bait for all game species statewide. Rep. Gary Haluska, D-Cambria County, proposed the legislation because – now get this – too many of his constituents were being cited for hunting over bait by what he referred to as “overzealous game wardens.” Haluska said people were arrested for hunting over bait because the farmer on whose property they were hunting dumped corn silage in the fields and these “sportsmen” never knew it was there. Haluska said additional hunters were cited because other people placed feeders for wildlife and these poor hunters were unaware they were hunting near a game feeder.Yeah, right! Hunters get caught hunting over bait and complain to their elected representative so he proposes a law to make it legal for these outlaws to continue the unethical not to mention unsportsmanlike activity that violates the very essence of fair chase.
Adding to the lunacy, Haluska said luring bears with doughnuts or food was baiting, but if a person set out a pile of corn that should not be considered baiting. Think about it. If Haluska’s loony proposal is passed, hunters could dump a truckload of corn and hunt over it for turkeys, squirrels, deer or whatever other game species came to the pile to feed and, according to Haluska, this wouldn’t be baiting.
What’s even more alarming is this proposal came a little more than two weeks before CWD was discovered in the three wild Pa. deer. As we said, currently it is illegal to feed elk and bears in Pennsylvania and the Game Commission may totally outlaw deer feeding in an effort to slow the spread of CWD. Wildlife biologists have a hard enough time managing our game populations and they don’t need to have to put up with misguided, if not totally clueless notions such as the one proposed by Rep. Haluska. Fortunately, for honest sportsmen and for the deer herd, it’s not likely this legislative proposition will pass, but the fact it was even proposed in the first place makes my head spin.