House Committee to host public hearing on Sunday hunting

HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Sunday hunting bill is back up for debate among state lawmakers Tuesday at a public hearing. Many supporters of the bill call it a landowner rights issue.

Currently it's illegal to hunt on Sundays, but if Senate Bill 147 passes, hunting would be allowed on three Sundays of the year, including one during rifle deer season and one during statewide deer archery season. But as it stands now, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is not okay with it.

"Our farmers, typically, they work 7 days a week," Mark O'Neill, a spokesperson, said. "And their farm is also their home. So a lot of them like to take Sunday as the one day where maybe they can cut back on the work schedule, spend more time with family, do other things, recreational activity, use their own property without being disturbed by hunters, the legal ones, who might show up at 6:30 in the morning knock on their door and ask for permission to hunt."

But the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Federation for Sportsmen and Conservationists, Harold Daub, said this is an issue of freedom and liberty.

"If we're allowed to fish on a Sunday, why would we be satisfied not considering hunting on a Sunday? Because of landowner rights? What about the landowners that want to have hunting on Sundays?" Daub asked.

The PA Farm Bureau said it has it's reasons for being against the bill, one of them being increased illegal trespassing and other economic impacts. But it said it could consider taking a neutral stance under one condition:

"We want written permission," O'Neill said. "And that means we want hunters who want to hunt on private land, including farm land, to get written permission in order to be out on the land."

It's a condition Daub isn't against, but nonetheless makes him angry, claiming it's just a way for legislators to buy more time.

"I'm in favor of it but it's being done as a stall tactic," Daub said. "It should've been part of the negotiation in June before it passed the Senate."

The bill also makes trespassing while hunting a higher-level offense, and a loss of hunting license for a second offense.

The House Game and Fisheries Committee will meet Tuesday, at 1 p.m. in Room 60 in the East Wing of the Capitol.

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