Sunday Hunting... One More Time.
The following may sound familiar, but please read it again. It will give you information to help you to express your thoughts and desires to your elected officials here in PA.
"I can't emphasize enough to horse owners and lovers in PA that Agriculture is the #1 industry, and according to those who look at such things, the horse industry is the second largest segment of the Ag industry. Now consider that tourism and recreation is the #2 industry in PA. Recreational horses are about 70% of the horse industry so having access to trails and open space is all important." Keep this in mind as you read on.
Every few years there seems to be a push from the State and National hunting organizations to have Pennsylvania allow the expansion of Sunday hunting for all general seasons and this year there seems to be a larger effort than usual.
In Pennsylvania according to the 2010 census there were 12,702,379 residents in PA and 892,678 of them were licensed hunters according to the PA Game Commission.
It is estimated that in 2019 PA’s population will reach over 12,842.441. And the Game Commission report states the hunting license sales were 885,632 in 2017. Once again showing an increase in population and a decrease in hunting license sales.
All the major game seasons are broken up into various time periods according to species and weapons. Examples are: archery deer; rifle deer and turkey; shotgun and muzzle loader. These seasons begin the end of September and run through January. Spring turkey season then begins with youth on April 20th and regular Bearded season April 27 and run through May 31, 2019.
Over the last two decades there has been a major push to develop and keep a current "Comprehensive Outdoor Recreational Plan" that you may access at www.paoutdoorrecplan.com from the Departments of Education, Health, Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources as well as the Fish and Game Commission and the Pennsylvania Equine Council. The idea is to get children and adults alike to begin or increase their outdoor activities. Obesity and lack of exercise is costing billions of dollars a year in health costs attributed to inactivity, to say nothing of the money that could be generated into the economy by recreation related activities.
A new term has developed over the last two decades, "Nature Deficit." A very small % of adults under the age of 60 have had any farm or large animal experience. Only about 1% of the nation's population is in a farming or related lifestyle. The urban or city dwellers make up the overwhelming majority of the nation's population. Promoting outdoor activities to the bulk of the population is very important; and whether real or imagined, people have reported they do not feel comfortable being outdoors during hunting seasons. Some conscientious people we have talked with have told us they feel they are interrupting hunters the other six days a week. They would like to have one day, Sunday, they could go out in the woods or fields to just enjoy themselves and their families.
Another very important group who figure in to the equation is the farmers. According to the PA Farm Bureau, the majority of their membership is opposed to Sunday hunting. Farm land in PA accounts for 7,745,336 million acres as of 2007 statistics. Over 2.6 million acres are enrolled in the Farm Game Project under a cooperative agreement with the Game Commission and are allowed open for hunting. There are similar agreements with timber companies with comparable acreage. There is a great concern from the public who also access the lands for recreational purposes that this regulation change to allow for Sunday hunting would impact these cooperative lands and they may be posted to limit access.
State Forest and State Parks as well as National Forest and National and County or Municipal Parks open for hunting would also likely fall under the regulation change. Therefore, the public concern for safety would limit the confidence of other people wanting to enjoy the outdoors on Sundays.
Pennsylvania is a beautiful state and our citizens appreciate a variety of outdoor activities all year round. Many of us hunt, but we are also concerned about the other folks who enjoy our parks, forests, private land and open spaces.
Pennsylvania Equine Council conducted a survey about Sunday hunting at the 2015 Horse World Expo. The overwhelming response was that during hunting season the rest of the public and visitors to PA would like to have one day a week that they didn't need to be concerned with hunting activities.
Bud Wills, State Trail Chair