Outdoors notebook: Legislation would impact sportsmen
Pennsylvania lawmakers introduce a lot of bills in the House of Representatives and Senate each year. Only a relative handful become law.
So, take these for what they’re worth.
But lawmakers already this year have introduced probably two dozen bills that would impact hunters and anglers and, in cases, inject a healthy dose of politics into wildlife management.
Two Senators, Richard Alloway and Sean Wiley, are co-sponsoring one that would allow the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to use proceeds from the sale of Lake Erie stamps in more ways.
Now, the money collected must be used to acquire fishing access or do habitat work within the Lake Erie watershed. Senate Bill 604 would allow the money to be used “for other projects that support public fishing” in that area.
It has the support of the commission and the S.O.N.S. of Lake Erie.
Rep. Neal Goodman is sponsoring House Bill 730, which would make it illegal to call turkeys in the 30 days prior to the opening of the spring gobbler season. That can “educate” turkeys and give some hunters an unfair advantage over others, he said.
The Game Commission has expressed concerns about how enforceable that kind of law would be.
Finally, Rep. Mike Hanna is sponsoring House Bill 671, which would take authority for deciding how many antlerless deer licenses to issue in any given year away from the Game Commission. An “antlerless deer harvest committee” consisting of licensed hunters appointed by the board of commissioners, the president pro tempore and minority leader of the Senate, and the speaker and minority leader of the House would make those decisions.
Waterfowlers have long had to buy a federal duck stamp to hunt ducks and geese, with the money going to support waterfowl habitat and conservation.
Might it be time for an upland bird stamp, one required of people hunting pheasants, grouse, woodcock and the like?
A group known as Ultimate Upland thinks so. It has introduced a petition calling for the creation of the first federal stamp for upland habitat conservation.
Its goal would be put sportsmen in charge of “a new program to reverse the losses of upland habitat and the resulting negative impacts to the numerous species of wildlife that exist in those spaces,” said the group’s founder, Brian Koch.
The group plans to survey hunters to get opinions on what a stamp should cost and how revenues generated should be used, while also going to lawmakers to rally support. Details can be found at uplandstamp.org.
Paddle Without Pollution, the volunteer group that uses people in kayaks and canoes to clean area waterways has kicked off its 2015 season.
Volunteers have done cleanups on the Monongahela River, Chartiers, Slippery Rock and Ten Mile creeks and North Park Lake. Through October, the group will tackle cleanups on Pymatuning Lake, Lake Arthur, Lake Erie, the Allegheny River and more.
Volunteers are welcome, and a limited number of boats usually are available for those who preregister. The group’s schedule is at paddlewithoutpollution.com/events/.
In the meantime, a film the group made about the ongoing development of the Presque Isle Water Trail is available for viewing on demand on Vimeo.com.
Lawmakers in Maryland, Texas and Tennessee have introduced bills that would create tax-free holidays on one or two weekends a year. At those times, people could buy firearms and hunting supplies without paying taxes.
Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina have similar laws in place.