Game Commission enters battle between hunters, Penn Hills residents
A house cat that was caught in a hunter’s trap at the former Churchill Valley Country Club prompted the Pennsylvania Game Commission to get involved in a spat between local hunters and residents.
On Nov. 12, Rebecca Aqra, of Penn Hills, said her neighbor informed her that she found the family’s cat caught in a hunter’s trap about 90 feet from Aqra’s home at Orlando Place.
The black and white cat, Figaro, is recovering, after a trip to the veterinarian for a broken foot, Aqra said.
The incident aligned Aqra with other residents who are concerned about hunting near the homes surrounding the now-overgrown golf course.
“I’m just dumbfounded that this is even happening. This is just insane,” Aqra said. “This is a residential area.”
Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer Dan Puhala said that the trap was legal and in season, but because it was within 150 yards of a residence the hunter was cited.
Puhala plans to suggest options to the property’s owners, such as only allowing archery on the property or issuing a limited amount of hunters permission slips.
Zokaites Properties, a development company based in McCandless, bought the 150-acre property in the southwest portion of Penn Hills in 2013,
Owners of Zokaites Properties did not respond to requests for comment about the citation or possible plans to restrict hunting, but last month said they do not mind legal hunting on the property.
Agra said that residents were not notified that there was hunting in the area.
Several nearby residents have reported hearing gunshots that they say make them nervous.
“People walk back there,” Aqra said of the property.
Penn Hills’ general offense code prohibits hunting in the municipality, though state law says hunters may hunt on private land with the landowner’s permission.
State law supersedes local laws in this instance, Game Commission spokesman Travis Lau said.
Puhala said that hunting on open land in suburban communities is not uncommon in Allegheny County, which sells more hunting licenses than any other county in Pennsylvania.
He said posting signs is a choice of property owners.
“There’s a lot of deer, big deer, out there and it’s close to home,” he said.
Despite the recent citation, Puhala said he doesn’t think hunting in the area is problematic.
“I’ve been out there a few times, and I haven’t seen any major issues,” he said.
As of last month, Zokaites Properties officials said there are no plans to redevelop the former country club, which closed in 2013.
Kelsey Shea is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7845 or [email protected].