The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today adopted two resolutions. One supports the expansion of Sunday hunting as a means of boosting hunter opportunity, supporting local economies and providing additional funding for wildlife management. The other supports adoption of Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which would allocate $1.3 billion annually for wildlife conservation across the nation.
The full text of the resolutions follows.
WHEREAS, The Commonwealth has experienced a consistent decline in hunting participation over the past several decades; and
WHEREAS, These declines have negatively affected participation by both resident and non-resident hunters and have resulted in an accompanying steady decline in the number of licenses sold and revenues generated; and
WHEREAS, The Commission recognizes that youth participation is vital to maintaining the long-standing tradition of hunting within the Commonwealth; and
WHEREAS, Section 2303 of the Game and Wildlife Code (relating to hunting on Sunday prohibited)(34 Pa.C.S. § 2303) currently provides very limited Sunday hunting opportunities within the Commonwealth; and
WHEREAS, Expanded Sunday hunting can be an effective means of recruiting new hunters and retaining current hunters by increasing the value of a hunting license by offering additional opportunities to spend time in the field; and
WHEREAS, The Commission recognizes that it can effectively double the number of hunting days for youths during the school year by offering additional Sunday hunting opportunities; and
WHEREAS, Many residents of this Commonwealth seek hunting opportunities and hunting leases in neighboring states that offer Sunday hunting; and
WHEREAS, The Commission has determined that Sunday hunting will help keep Pennsylvania hunters in Pennsylvania; and
WHEREAS, The Commonwealth has a long-standing tradition of hunting camps and clubs; and
WHEREAS, Expanded Sunday hunting opportunities could effectively double the number of hunting days for camp owners and club members; and
WHEREASs, Expanded Sunday hunting opportunities have the potential to provide substantial economic benefits to rural areas and businesses by increasing money spent by hunters on lodging, food, gas and other incidental items; and
WHEREAS, Expanded Sunday hunting opportunities have the potential to generate a substantial increase in out-of-state license sales and the accompanying revenue for the Commission; and
WHEREAS, Hunting license sales and their associated federal matching funds are the primary revenue source for the Commission in carrying out its mission, including maintaining 1.5 million acres of state game lands and acquisition of additional public lands, research and management of wildlife and providing information and education to the public; and
WHEREAS, Expanded Sunday hunting opportunities could effectively generate $629 million in additional spending and create 5,300 new jobs, resulting in $18 million in additional sales and income tax; and
WHEREAS, The mission of the Pennsylvania Game Commission is to manage wildlife and its habitat for current and future generations; and
WHEREAS, Expanded Sunday hunting opportunities have would provide the Commission’s biologists with a new tool to manage wildlife populations; and
WHEREAS, The Commission has observed that the 43 states that currently permit Sunday hunting have not experienced any discernable negative impact on the health or vibrancy of game populations by allowing Sunday hunting; and
WHEREAS, The Commission’s Board of Commissioners recognizes that the authority to expand Sunday hunting lies entirely with the General Assembly of Pennsylvania; and
WHEREAS, If the General Assembly repeals the restrictions on Sunday hunting and grants the Commission the authority to regulate Sunday hunting, the Board recognizes the many stakeholder groups that any actions on Sunday hunting will affect and will endeavor to engage these stakeholders before passing any new regulations in regard to Sunday hunting.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Commissioners of the Pennsylvania Game Commission does hereby urge the General Assembly of Pennsylvania to repeal the prohibition on Sunday hunting in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Recovering America’s Wildlife Act
WHEREAS Article 1 § 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution provides for “…the preservations of the natural….values of the environment” as a birthright of every Pennsylvania citizen, including “generations yet to come”; and
WHEREAS the Title 34 § 103 of the Game and Wildlife Code provides ownership, jurisdiction, and control of game and wildlife to the PGC; and
WHEREAS, the mission of the Pennsylvania Game Commission is to manage Pennsylvania’s 480 wild birds, wild mammals, and their habitats for current and future generations; and
WHEREAS the PGC does not receive revenue from the Pennsylvania General Fund; and
WHEREAS there is a recognized need to expand the dedicated and sustainable funding base for wildlife conservation in Pennsylvania and throughout the Nation; and
WHEREAS the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources, made up of 26 business and conservation leaders, was tasked with recommending a new funding mechanism to support state fish and wildlife conservation to ensure the sustainability of all fish and wildlife for current and future generations; and,
WHEREAS the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources has recommended that Congress dedicate to states and territories $1.3 billion annually to the Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program to diversify funding and management of all wildlife; and
WHEREAS, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would fund recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources by making funds available for management of fish and wildlife Species of Greatest Conservation Need as determined by state fish and wildlife agencies in each state’s Wildlife Action Plan; and
WHEREAS securing dedicated federal funding is likely to require a non-federal state match similar to that in place for the Pittman-Robertson; and
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED TO support the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources; and
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED TO that the PGC encourage other state fish & wildlife agencies throughout the country to do the same; and
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED TO support broadening non-federal dedicated funding mechanisms for wildlife conservation and implementation of the Pennsylvania Wildlife Action Plan, and to serve as the state’s 25 percent match, in the event that new dedicated federal funding is secured.