Sunday hunt bill may be coming soon

Harrisburg — It’s coming. Or at least that’s what’s been promised.

Frank Farina, a state representative from Lackawanna County, intends to introduce a bill that would repeal the state’s ban on hunting on Sundays. 

The idea, he said when Pennsylvania Game Commission officials presented their annual report to lawmakers, would be to give the agency the authority to decide if and when to include Sundays in seasons.

That could benefit working people and families with young children, he said then.

“I haven’t talked to anyone who doesn’t think this is a good idea,” Farina said.

Count an apparently growing number of sportsmen as being on his side.

In the past, those who oppose Sunday hunting has said that not all hunters even want it. But that may be changing.

The Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, which in the recent past has said it supports allowing the Game Commission to decide the Sunday hunting issue, had its spring convention in March. Delegates were asked whether they supported Farina’s proposal.

They voted to support it by a vote of 80-17, with four abstentions. That’s thought to be the highest level of support the group has given a Sunday hunting bill.

Any such bill, when introduced, will still likely face opposition.

The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau has been one of the largest and most aggressive opponents of legalizing Sunday hunting in the past.

Game Commissioners recognize that. At the board’s last meeting, for example, Farm Bureau representative Jeff Grove asked commissioners to ease the rules for enrolling a farm in the red tag program, which allows hunters to shoot deer outside of traditional seasons. Only farms enrolled in the commission’s public access program for two years can participate.

Grove asked commissioners to consider changing that and “think outside the box.”

Commissioner Jay Delaney, of Luzerne County, was quick to jump in.

“Jeff, I’d ask that the Farm Bureau think outside the box and support Sunday hunting,” Delaney said.

When Farina’s bill might be introduced is uncertain. He did not return a phone call to his office.

Meanwhile, lawmakers have introduced a number of other bills that would impact sportsmen.

Rep. Thomas Murt, a Montgomery County Republican, is sponsor of House Bill 1006, which would give officers with the Game and Fish & Boat commissions the power to enforce trespass laws.

That’s a power the Game Commission has previously said it did not want.

His bill has been referred to the House game and fisheries committee for consideration.

Also there is a bill, sponsored by Murt, that would require the Fish & Boat Commission to allow fishermen with a senior license from another state to fish here without having to first buy a Pennsylvania license. 

The rule would apply only to fishermen hailing from a state that would likewise be willing to recognize Pennsylvania senior licenses within their borders.

“I believe this cost savings to our valued senior anglers would help encourage more travel by senior residents while attracting tourism to the commonwealth from out-of-state anglers, resulting in a boost to our economy.”

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