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GUN RIGHTS : VALLEY RIFLE BAN ISN'T A DONE DEAL
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Recommend  Message 1 of 3 in Discussion 
From: MSN NicknameGunrockets  (Original Message)Sent: 30/01/2008 13:20

Valley rifle ban isn't a done deal

Proposed changes in hunting rules may need more thought, official says.

By Christian Berg | Of The Morning Call
January 28, 2008

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HARRISBURG | - A widely anticipated ban on the use of deer-hunting rifles in the Lehigh Valley may not happen as soon as expected, a Pennsylvania Game Commission official said Sunday.

A preliminary vote on the rifle ban -- which would expand Southeastern Pennsylvania's shotgun-only area to include virtually all of Lehigh and Northampton counties and a significant portion of Berks County -- is scheduled for Tuesday.

But Commissioner Gregory Isabella of Philadelphia, whose district includes the Lehigh Valley, said sportsmen have raised a number of concerns that may require more consideration before the measure moves forward. Additional discussion could take place today during the commission's work session.
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''Quite honestly, this was a culture shock to a lot of the hunters in that area,'' said Isabella, adding that he isn't certain what changes, if any, will be made to the proposal. ''We're going to listen to what the staff reports here [today] and go from there.''

Currently, the restriction on rifle hunting applies only in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. However, a proposal on the agenda for the commission's Tuesday business meeting would prohibit deer hunting with a rifle throughout Wildlife Management Unit 5C, which also would be significantly expanded to include the Reading area and all of Lehigh and Northampton counties except a small sliver adjacent to the Blue Mountain.

If the measure is adopted, the only rifles that would remain legal for hunting use in the territory would be less powerful .22-caliber rimfires, which could be used for small game such as squirrels or furbearers such as foxes and coyotes.

In addition to the rifle restrictions, the proposal would allow hunters on private property throughout the 5C territory to use bait such as corn and apples to draw deer within shooting range. Like the rifle restrictions, deer baiting is currently legal only on private ground in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.

Isabella said he received numerous e-mails from sportsmen in Berks and Lehigh counties expressing concern about the amount of new territory that would be added to the so-called Special Regulations Area.

''They kind of thought it was going to happen, but the discussion was that it was such a large grab of land,'' he said.

Isabella said he also talked with numerous sportsmen who told him they could not effectively hunt groundhogs, foxes or coyotes with .22-caliber rimfires, which lack the necessary range and killing power.

One hunter strongly opposed to the changes is L. David Garman of Greenwich Township, Berks County, who drove to the commission's Harrisburg headquarters Sunday afternoon to testify against the proposal.

''Where I live, it's still rural,'' said Garman, who has hunted for more than 60 years and owns the 130-acre High Hill Farm. ''To put it into a Special Regulations Area, I do not think is right.''

Garman was among more than 60 people who testified at Sunday's public comment session, but he was the only one who came specifically to talk about the proposed changes for Wildlife Management Unit 5C. Garman told commissioners the proposed firearms restrictions could make it difficult to control deer, groundhogs and other animals routinely killed on farms for causing crop and property damage.

If the agency decided to move forward with the proposal, Garman suggested officials could soften the blow by allowing hunters to use centerfire handguns up to .45 caliber, which he said have effective ranges similar to muzzleloaders already included in the recommendation.

The idea of expanding the Special Regulations Area to include the Lehigh Valley gained momentum in 2004, when former North Whitehall Township resident Casey Kantner was struck in the head by a stray rifle bullet fired by a nearby deer hunter. Kantner, who was eight months pregnant at the time, was critically injured but later recovered and delivered a healthy baby girl.

Staff commentary included in the commission's meeting agenda says the current proposal is an acknowledgment of the area's rapid development and fast-growing population. They also say it would simplify the rules by eliminating a two-tiered regulatory structure in which some regulations are applied by the Wildlife Management Unit while others are applied by county.

If the proposal receives preliminary approval Tuesday, commissioners could finalize it in April, and the changes would be in place for 2008-09 hunting seasons. It would be the first major expansion of shotgun-only areas since 1991, when the existing boundaries were established.

cberg@mcall.com

610-778-2252



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Reply
Recommend  Message 2 of 3 in Discussion 
From: MSN Nickname444HalSent: 30/01/2008 21:10

I have to wonder how much “out of state revenue?will be lost because NJ hunters (who aren’t allowed to use rifles in Jersey) wont bother getting the Pa licenses because of having to travel half way across the state to hunt.

I thought I’d try hunting someday myself, if I could use my levers.

People suggested I should jump the creek into Bucks'. 

 

Guess not now.


Reply
Recommend  Message 3 of 3 in Discussion 
From: MSN NicknameRDKING07Sent: 03/02/2008 15:28
Don't give up so easily 444, call your state representative and let them know how you feel.  Don't let up and fight til the end.
RDKING07

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