Pennsylvania Game News - October 2020 - 48

JULY COMMISSIONERS MEETING

Night-vision optics viewed
Board considers use for furbearer hunting.

The Pennsylvania Board of Game
Commissioners in July gave preliminary approval
to a regulatory change that would allow handheld
and sporting-arm mounted night-vision and
infrared optics to be used while hunting furbearers.
The change could be adopted at the board's
Sept. 26 meeting.
The preliminary vote followed the recent
passage and signing into law of state House Bill
1188, which permits the Game Commission
to regulate night-vision and infrared optics.
Previously, the hunting use of these devices was
prohibited by state law.
The board took swift action to begin the
process of regulating these devices in response
to comments the agency has received since the
bill's passage, said Board President Charlie Fox.
"The use of this equipment will provide
predator hunters an additional tool in their
toolbox, one that will allow them to be efficient
and safe when hunting predators," Fox said.

E-bikes remain unlawful on SGLs
A proposal to allow state game lands users to ride
Class 1 and Class 2 electric bicycles in the same manner
they can ride traditional bicycles was voted down by
the board.
The commissioners gave preliminary approval to
the measure in January, but tabled it in April. At the
July meeting, the measure was rejected by a 5-3 vote,
with Commissioners Stanley Knick, Brian Hoover and
Timothy Layton voting in favor of permitting e-bikes
on game lands.
While it remains unlawful to operate e-bikes
on game lands, the 2020-21 Pennsylvania Hunting
& Trapping Digest, which is issued to hunters
and furtakers at the time they buy their licenses,
erroneously states on Page 16 that Class 1 and Class
2 e-bikes are permitted on game lands. All e-bikes
continue to be prohibited everywhere on game lands,
including on roads normally open to public travel.

48

Other meeting highlights
* Fluorescent-orange requirements
for all game-lands users during the height
of the hunting seasons - from Nov. 15
to Dec. 15 - now include Sundays, too.
The board adopted amended
regulations that require hikers and other
nonhunters to wear at least 250 square
inches of fluorescent-orange clothing
on the head, chest and back combined,
visible from 360 degrees, when visiting
state game lands at any time during that
period. Those using shooting ranges are
exempted from the requirement.
* A proposal that would have
established 24-caliber as the minimum
caliber for hunting deer and bear with
centerfire rifles was voted down.
The board received many comments
from hunters opposed to prohibiting
smaller-caliber centerfire rifles such as the
.223 and .22-250 for big-game hunting,
and commissioners said continuing to
permit use of these calibers could benefit
the recruitment of young hunters, as well
as the retention of aging hunters.
* Landowners could receive additional
time to address problems with resident
Canada geese.
Pennsylvania landowners properly
registered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service might be allowed to take nests
and eggs year-round, and kill small
numbers of adult geese causing crop
damage from April through August,
instead of May through August.
The measure will be brought back to a
future meeting for a second vote.
* The commissioners asked Game
Commission staff to explore the potential
for issuing antlerless deer licenses
directly through the commission.
While the mail-in antlerless
application process is mandated by
state law, and changing it would require
legislation, staff will proactively explore
possible alternatives for application and
award of licenses should the law change.



Pennsylvania Game News - October 2020

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