As Pennsylvania hunters continue the years-long battle for the ability to hunt on Sundays, an important Sunday hunting measure currently in the state legislature is set for a critical vote soon.
The Senate Game and Fisheries Committee has scheduled a hearing for May 18 to discuss Senate Bill 1070, legislation that would repeal the ban on Sunday hunting. And it is up to Keystone State sportsmen to let lawmakers know how they feel about the proposal.
The prohibition on Sunday hunting is an old blue law left on the books in only a handful of states. Although Pennsylvania does allow limited opportunities to varmint hunt on Sundays, a large sector of the hunting population continues to be ignored.
In fact, this concept of expanding hunting on Sundays is not a novel idea. Current law gives a select group of private landowners, whose property is enrolled as a noncommercial regulated hunting ground, the privilege to hunt all game in season on Sundays. This law amounts to tens of thousands of acres being hunted on Sundays by landowners who can afford to own and enroll their 100-plus acre plots as a noncommercial regulated hunting ground.… many hunters are prevented from introducing their children or friends to hunting because they are competing with organized sports and other activities on Saturday, which is currently their only opportunity to hunt outside of the work week.
This exemption, which became law more than a decade ago, only allows those who own large tracts of land the pleasure of hunting on Sundays, while continuing to deny the majority of Pennsylvania hunters the same freedom.
As NRA-ILA points out, because of the current general prohibition, many hunters are prevented from introducing their children or friends to hunting because they are competing with organized sports and other activities on Saturday, which is currently their only opportunity to hunt outside of the work week. Studies show that most hunters who stop do so because of lack of time, so proponents hope that the increased opportunities will increase hunter retention and help attract new hunters.
The addition of an extra day in the field, especially on the weekend, increases the opportunity for those individuals to experience hunting. SB 1070 would allow the Pennsylvania Game Commission to regulate hunting opportunities on designated Sundays as they do for every other day of the week. This legislation would undoubtedly invigorate essential hunter recruitment and retention efforts—key factors in preserving Pennsylvania’s hunting heritage for future generations to come.
In addition to helping with hunter retention and recruiting, Sunday hunting would also create an economic boon. According to NSSF research, allowing Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania would generate an estimated total annual economic impact of $764 million and create more than 8,000 jobs.In a nutshell, there are several reasons to support Sunday hunting:
- States that have recently repealed Sunday hunting prohibitions have had no adverse impact on game populations;
- The most common reason that hunters stop hunting is lack of hunting opportunity;
- Sunday hunting helps recruit new hunters;
- Sunday hunting provides an economic benefit to many rural areas; and
- Out-of-state license revenues grow as a result of Sunday hunting.
Currently four states—Connecticut, Delaware, Maine and Massachusetts—completely prohibit hunting on Sunday for any wild game, and seven allow limited Sunday hunting. Maryland and West Virginia allow hunting on Sundays in some counties on private land, while South Carolina and Virginia allow Sunday hunting on private land and some public waterways for waterfowl. North Carolina allows Sunday hunting only with archery equipment on private lands and by falconry on public lands. New Jersey allows bow hunting on Sundays for deer on state wildlife management areas and private property, while Pennsylvania, as mentioned above, allows Sunday hunting for predators and on large tracts of noncommercial regulated hunting ground.
According to NRA-ILA, all seven of those states have recently taken some steps to allow hunting on Sundays. None of these states has experienced the horror stories predicted by anti-hunting activists, and each continues to have healthy wildlife populations. Additionally, hunters in those states continue to be safe and responsible, church attendance remains unchanged, and landowner-hunter conflicts have not increased.
USE YOUR POWER!
It is imperative that Pennsylvania hunters let their voices be heard on this important issue. To contact members of the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee to voice your support for SB 1070, click here.