Tag Archives: “pa game commission”

Results of a Right to Know Law Request to the PA Game Commission Regarding Their Survey of Hunters and Semi-automatics for Big Game Hunting

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Recently, after I blogged about the list of approved animals to hunt with a semi-automatic in PA, I submitted a Right to Know Law request to the PA Game Commission.

I sought records which included the survey itself, any and all responses, and documents relating to the selection of those who would receive the survey, information (age, county) of the individual completing the survey.

The cost to produce the records I requested would be almost $400, as there were an estimated 1,473 pages of records that were responsive to my request. I was informed that approximately 75% of the respondents returned the survey via the USPS, which accounted for the cost associated with the production of the records.

The Commission did furnish me with the responses that were returned electronically (523 responses). Please note, this only accounts for 1/4 of the total responses received.

I sent the responses I received to a fellow member on AR15.com who is more well versed in decoding the information provided. He responded that “the sample, at least the observable portion, is rather skewed geographically and by age.”

He found that within the partial dataset there was a high degree of correlation between the ownership of a semi-automatic firearm and support and a high degree of non-ownership and strong opposition. Out of the 523 respondents that I received results for, less than 40% owned a semi-automatic rifle. It was further explained that opposition increased with age as well as counties that had the highest opposition rates also had the highest rate of response.

He also noted concerns relating to the sample population. In order to determine whether a representative sample of PA hunters were surveyed, we would need more information such as a summary detail on the CID pool from which the sample was drawn and populations by county with counts by age.

As for the methodology, I was told that the survey recipients were chosen via a SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) report that utilizes a data source based around a T-SQL query that makes use of the built-in NEWID function. Since, that stuff is a bit beyond my knowledge scope as to technology and databases, the response may have well have been in french.

The was it was explained to me was that, the “function assigns each distinct Customer ID (CID) number within the given parameters a randomly generated globally unique ID number.  An example of this ID looks like  6F9619FF-8B86-D011-B42D-00C04FC964FF.  These Customer ID numbers are sorted by the generated ID. The desired number of CID’s are taken from the top of the sorted list.  These randomly select CID’s are then joined with the associated demographic information.” 

As my technical resource notes

The sampling method used, (randomly assigning a Global ID and sorting in alphanumeric order)  is inherently flawed, as there is no way to ensure that the resulting sample is representative of the hunter population as a whole. The preferred method used throughout market research would be a “stratified random sample.”
By using county and age as strata, the PGC would have ensured, with 99% confidence, that the sample group was completely representative of the 900,000+ PA hunter population.
Choosing not to use this method, in conjunction with the vague statement “within given parameters,” indicates incompetence at best, or intent at worst.

I’d like to remind readers that I am only working with a portion of the data that the Commission received. Without the rest of the information, we are only looking at a small portion of the picture. But it does seem to raise questions as to the validity in which the survey was conducted.

 

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Hunting with a Semiautomatic Firearm in PA? List of approved animals.

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As many of you know, the PA Game Commission voted on the regulations for hunting with semiautomatic rifles. As Attorney Prince previously reported, the Pennsylvania Game Commission voted against semi-automatic hunting for big game.

Which means the list of animals that people are able to hunt is not as large as it was previously thought to be. The Game Commission cited a survey that it randomly sent to 4,000 hunters in which they received over 2,000 responses.

According to this article, there were 2,002 individuals who responded.

The findings of the survey show clear support for hunting furbearers (55 percent support or strongly support), woodchucks (51 percent support or strongly support) and small game (42 percent support or strongly support, and 12 percent neither support nor oppose) with semiautomatic rifles.

For big game, while 28 percent of survey respondents expressed support or strong support for semiautomatic rifles, 64 percent of respondents said they opposed or strongly opposed semiautomatic rifles for big-game hunting, with 52 percent saying they were strongly opposed.

http://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Game-Commission-Details.aspx?newsid=113

“Small game is defined as: game birds (brant, bobwhite quail, coot, gallinule, geese, grouse, Hungarian partridge, merganser, mourning and Eurasian collared doves, pheasant, rail, snipe, swan, wild ducks and woodcock) and game animals (cottontail rabbit, squirrels, snowshoe hare and woodchuck).

The term furbearer applies to the badger, beaver, bobcat, coyote, fisher, mink, muskrat, opossum, otter, pine martin, raccoon, red or gray fox, striped skunk and weasel.”

Big game includes: Deer, Elk, Black Bear and Turkey.

If you have not already, be sure to contact the Game Commission to express your disappointment in their decision to not allow for semiautomatic rifles to hunt for big game. The Commission stated that if growing support for hunting big game with semiautomatic rifles emerges at some point in the future, they will give consideration to further regulatory changes.

Featured image photo credit: Gunsamerica.com

 

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PA Game Commission Preliminarily Approves The Use Of Semiautomatic Rifles and Shotguns While Hunting Big Game, Small Game and Furbearers

After the public hearings that occurred from January 29th through today, January 31, 2017, the Pennsylvania Game Commission announced:

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave unanimous preliminary approval to regulatory changes that would permit the use of semiautomatic rifles and shotguns while hunting big game, small game and furbearers. A five-round magazine would be required for all semiautomatic hunting rifles, with the total ammunition capacity limited to six rounds, based on the preliminarily approved measure.

The measure also preliminarily approves the use of air rifles for small-game and furbearers.

Consistent with Firearm Owners Against Crime’s comments and evidentiary submissions to the PA Game Commissioners, the Board stated that

most of those who opposed cited concerns over compromised safety as their primary reason for opposition … [however after] a thorough review of hunter safety in states that allow semiautomatic rifles, including neighboring states and states that most resemble Pennsylvania in terms of hunter density…[t]he review uncovered no evidence the use of semiautomatic rifles has led to a decline in hunter safety in any state where they’re permitted for hunting.

Furthermore, the Board also reviewed the follow regulatory additions/changes:

Semiautomatic rifles in .22 caliber or less that propel single-projectile ammunition and semiautomatic shotguns 10 gauge or smaller propelling ammunition not larger than No. 4 lead – also No. 2 steel or No. 4 composition or alloy – would be legal firearms arms for small-game seasons under a regulation preliminarily approved by the Board of Game Commissioners.

Semiautomatic firearms that propel single-projectile ammunition also would be legal sporting arms for woodchucks and furbearers. There is no caliber restriction for woodchucks or furbearers.

For big game, semiautomatic centerfire rifles and shotguns would be legal sporting arms.

Full-metal-jacket ammunition would continue to be prohibited for deer, bear and elk hunting.

All semiautomatic firearms would be limited to six rounds’ ammunition capacity – magazines can hold no more than five rounds.

Semiautomatics would be legal in seasons in which modern firearms can be used to take deer, black bears, elk and fall turkeys.

Air-guns would be legal for small game in calibers from .177 to .22 that propel single-projectile pellets or bullets, under the regulatory changes preliminarily approved by the Board of Game Commissioners.

For woodchucks and furbearers, air-guns must be at least .22 caliber and propel a single-projectile pellet or bullet. BB ammunition is not authorized for small game, furbearers or woodchucks.

These proposals will be brought up again at the March meeting for a final vote.

 

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Rifle Season and Why You Should Never Speak to the Game Commission

Rifle season for hunters in PA opened on Monday and the violations are already being racked up. Individuals have been contacting our office for representation regarding a number of different violations. Most of which could have been avoided had they not spoken to the Game Commission Officer.

game officer

I previously blogged that you have a 5th Amendment Right not to speak to the Game Commission. Most of the time the hunter puts themselves in a situation where they will be cited by speaking to the Game Commission Officer. I have yet to encounter a client who talked their way out of a citation rather than into one. While the common thought is that an individual would just be subjected to just a fine, that could not be more wrong. A number of these individuals find themselves at risk of having their hunting license revoked the following year. Depending on the violation this can result in an individual losing their hunting privilege for several years.

What are some of the more common hunting violations? Hunting without a license, hunting over bait, and harvesting more than the allocated amount. Additionally, if an individual has not taken the Hunter Safety Education Course in PA and was not issued a hunting license previously from another state, they cannot lawfully obtain a hunting license in PA.

What should you do if you are cited with a hunting violation? Contact an attorney immediately. Our office has experience handling hunting violations and can help you. Pleading guilty to a hunting violation may result in more than just having to a pay a fine. The potential loss of hunting privileges, LTCF revocations and a CLEO refusing to sign NFA forms may all be within the realm of possible fallouts. Additionally, if your hunting license is revoked in PA, that may mean you lose your ability to hunt in other states as Pennsylvania is a signatory to the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact.

 

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Hunting with Silencers in PA is Legal!

A number of individuals have inquired with our office whether it is legal to hunt with a silencer in PA. As silencers have become more popular, affordable and increasingly marketed to the hunting community, they are being utilized in the field by more people than ever. In Pennsylvania, it is legal to hunt while using a silencer.

silencer

In 2009, Chief Counsel Joshua Prince wrote to the Game Commission requesting confirmation that there are no prohibitions on hunting with silencers in PA. The Game Commission replied that it was legal to do so and suggested that individuals have a copy of their “license” for their silencer. A copy of that letter can be found here.

While the Game Commission itself spoke of a license, it is likely they meant a copy of your approved form from ATF. While researching the topic a bit further I stumbled across another letter that was issued by the Game Commission in January of this year.

Hunting with Silencer 2015

It seems in the years following Joshua’s original request, the Game Commission has taken to training their officers on the use and possession of silencers.

If you are a Pennsylvania resident and want to obtain a silencer but are unsure where to start, give us a call! We can help you form a Gun Trust to purchase your silencers. For more information on Gun Trusts you can read this blog article by Joshua Prince.

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PA Hunter Safety Course Available Online

Pennsylvania law requires that first time hunters take and pass an approved Hunter Safety Course prior to purchasing their first hunting license. Unfortunately for individuals who are unaware of this requirement, there is nothing in the system that would prevent a clerk from selling them a license. As such, individuals are at risk for purchasing a hunting license that they technically should not be in possession of.

The Game Commission and its officers can see if an individual has taken and passed the approved course. If the individual has not and is caught hunting, they could potentially face a number of citations that they might not otherwise.

 

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Good news for those of you who have not yet taken a Hunter Safety Course. There is no need to find a course at a remote location as it can be taken online in the comfort of your own home! The Official Pennsylvania Hunter Safety Education Course allows you to take the Hunter Safety Course at your own leisure and only charges you when you pass the test!

If you or someone you know has NOT yet taken a Hunter Safety Education Course and plan on hunting, use the link above. You’ll be ready to hit the woods in no time!

 

Have you been charged with a hunting violation? Be sure to contact our office before you do anything at 610-845-3803.

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Using a Tree Stand on State Game Lands?

Earlier this year the PA Game Commission passed a new regulation relating to tree stands on State Game Lands requiring that owners of the stands now conspicuously mark their stand with their CID number, owner’s first and last name and their home address or a number issued by the Game Commission for this purpose.

tree-stand-safety

The regulation makes it unlawful to:

Construct, place, maintain, occupy, use, leave or abandon any structures or other tangible property, except that portable hunting blinds or stands may be used subject to the following restrictions:

(i) Use may not cause damage to trees.

(ii) Except as provided in subparagraph (iii), overnight placement of portable hunting blinds or stands may not occur sooner than 2 weeks prior to the opening of the first deer season nor later than 2 weeks after the close of the last deer season within each wildlife management unit.

(iii) Overnight placement of portable hunting blinds is additionally permitted during the spring turkey season within each wildlife management unit.

(iv) Portable hunting blinds or stands placed under subparagraph (ii) or (iii) must be conspicuously marked with a durable identification tag that legibly sets forth in the owner’s first name, last name and legal home address in English or must bear a number issued by the Commission for this purpose. 

The Commission did not define what a “durable identification tag” is which may be problematic in the event your tag is somehow damaged or missing. I suggest taking a photo of whatever method you use, so that if it becomes an issue in the future you can prove that it was marked. Some ideas of what may qualify are: engraving a metal tag and attaching it via wire to the stand or using a plastic tag with your information recorded using a paint pen.

If you are interested in obtaining a number issued by the Game Commission for the purpose of marking your stand, you can visit the Game Commission’s Tree Stand Identification Number page.

Good luck out there this season and remember, if you’re approached by the Game Commission you do not lose your Fifth Amendment rights. Never speak to the Game Commission or Law Enforcement without first consulting with an attorney.

 

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