Small game hunters be­ware of quirk in law

The Southern Berks News - - SPORTS - By Bob Bal­lan­tyne

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.

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