Small game hunters beware of quirk in law
A recent news release from the Pennsylvania Game Commission caught hunters unaware of a quirk in some new regulations that could cause them to run afoul of the law if hunting small game in the Special Regulations Areas.
According to the release, when the Pennsylvania Game Commission, in April, approved the use of semiautomatic rifles and air guns for hunting small game and furbearers, the provision could not be extended to the state’s Special Regulations Areas, which are covered under a separate section of the law.
In southeastern Pennsylvania the SRAs include all of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties.
The game commissioners, however, corrected that situation by recently adopting a measure that will allow hunters and trappers within Special Regulations Areas to use semiautomatic, small caliber rifles and air guns.
However, the news release notes that it will take approximately six to eight weeks for the changes to become official.
This is in direct contrast to the small game hunting rules published in the 2017- 2018 Hunting and Trapping Digest received when a hunting license is purchased. The regulations in that booklet went into effect in on 1 July 2017.
On page 8, in explaining what changes are in effect for the current year, it says “semiautomatic rifles and airguns now can be used for hunting small game and furbearers statewide.” Note that it clearly says “statewide.”
When contacted, an official of the game commission said, “Hunters and trappers must wait the 8 weeks before semiautos and air guns can be used in the Special Regulations Areas.”
Junior hunts for most small game species are already underway. The regular seasons on rabbit and squirrel open on Saturday, October 14, and pheasant season opens on October 21st.