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Outdoors notebook: Proposal would legalize airguns for hunting | TribLIVE.com
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Outdoors notebook: Proposal would legalize airguns for hunting

Tribune-Review
| Sunday, November 2, 2014 7:57 p.m

How about air rifles as a hunting tool?

A number of states, including Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, New York, West Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey, have legalized their use. Now, Pennsylvania Rep. Matt Gabler, an Elk County Republican, wants to do the same here. He’s behind House Bill 1136, which would amend the state game and wildlife code to remove the prohibition on hunting with “air or gas-powered weapons.”

His bill wouldn’t automatically legalize use of the guns. Rather, it would give the Pennsylvania Game Commission the authority to legalize their use as it sees fit, for certain species and seasons.

“Air and gas-powered weapon technology has advanced in great lengths in recent years, with many such weapons now having equal or greater muzzle energy and stopping power when compared with numerous small caliber weapons currently allowed under law or regulation of the commission,” Gabler said in a memo to his fellow lawmakers.

“This legislation would enable Pennsylvania to move into the 21st century and allow the (Game Commission) and their experts to use their data and expertise to determine whether the regulated use of these weapons is prudent with today’s technology.”

Lawmakers have ended their session for the year, so the bill will have to be taken up in 2015.

Baiting

While hunting, be on the lookout for illegal baiting. Wildlife conservation officers with the Pennsylvania Game Commission around the region are reporting it’s fairly common again this year.

According to the commission, bait is defined as “any artificial or natural food, hay, grain, fruit, nuts, salt, chemicals or minerals, including their residues, that is used or has been used in the past 30 days as an enticement to lure game or wildlife.”

That means you can hunt near a cultivated cornfield, but not around a feeder or over a pile of corn or apples or a salt or mineral block.

Anyone who encounters baiting is asked to report that to the nearest commission region office. The southwest office can be reached at 724-238-9523; the northwest office at 814-432-3187.

Money available

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is accepting grant applications for projects improving canoe and kayak access on local waterways.

Grants of up to $4,000 can be used for stabilizing access areas, adding parking or purchasing riverside land, among other things. Access sites should be located along a stream or river featured in “Canoeing Guide to Western Pennsylvania and Northern West Virginia” (located online at www.cs.cmu.edu/~shaw/CG.html) or be recognized as a paddling waterway in western Pennsylvania.

Applications are available at www.waterlandlife.org/371/ and must be postmarked by Nov. 15.

Contact Eli Long at elong@paconserve.org or 724-471-7202, extension 5105.

Right to hunt

Voters in two states will be asked to confirm hunters’ right to hunt.

Residents of Alabama and Mississippi on Tuesday will have the chance to approve ballot referendums guaranteeing the right for future generations to legally hunt, fish and harvest wildlife.

At least eight states already have approved such constitutional amendments.

Legislation that would guarantee the right to hunt and fish in Pennsylvania has been introduced previously, but never been approved by lawmakers.

Big money

A report issued by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, “Economic Impact of Hunting and Target Shooting in America,” says the annual financial impact to the U.S. economy by sportsmen and women is about $110 billion.

The figures were compiled from 2011 spending activity reports.

The report says hunting and shooting support more than 866,000 jobs and generate local, state, and federal taxes of more than $15 billion. Pennsylvania alone supports 23,082 jobs and generates more than $395 million in taxes.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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