To the Members of the Pennsylvania Senate:
The Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation’s mission is to steward our state parks and forests. We and our 49 chapters work to ensure a place where Pennsylvanians can safely recreate, investing time, talent, and money.
We have watched Sunday hunting legislation in the past, and thought the compromise bill passed last session provided ample additional opportunities for hunting while not placing non-consumptive users at risk or deterring them from enjoying our public lands.
This law went into effort in 2020, during a pandemic.
And now there are those who are calling it a “success.”
How? Why? And for whom?
While we are not anti-hunting, we ARE pro-safety and pro-rest. We strongly oppose the lifting of a Sunday hunting moratorium and placing the decision about Sunday hunting solely in the hands of the Game Commission.
Sunday hunting should not be about the economics of one agency; it is about care of wildlife and the shared resource we call our public lands. The bill would affect all public lands where hunting is allowed, not just state game lands. Any decision on Sunday hunting should be left in the hands of the General Assembly, where it has traditionally been, because the decision involves a wide range of issues (social mores, recreation, to name but two) that go well beyond hunting and wildlife management and the legislature is better positioned to make those decisions on behalf of ALL citizens of the Commonwealth.
Hundreds of thousands of non-hunters use our public and private lands regularly. Sunday hunting would impact all recreationists including hikers, trail runners, bikers, families and youth groups, dog walkers, birders, and equestrians.
Most of the Commonwealth’s residents would like at least one day a week to stroll in our woodlands and forests without the fear of guns or hunting and the perceived – and sometimes real – safety issues they create. Last year, there were three incidences of shootings in our parks and forests, two of which were fatal. While the incidents did not occur on Sunday, this does not negate their importance.
Pennsylvania families and groups like ours specifically plan trips on Sundays to avoid conflicts with hunters and to enjoy wild places with peace of mind. Many of these people are not comfortable recreating in areas where gun shots can be heard and hunting may occur. We believe that non-hunters should be able to enjoy our state peacefully for at least one day a week. It is as simple as that.
Surveys taken ahead of preparation of the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan place hunting 13th on the list of popular outdoor pursuits – behind hiking, running, visiting historic sites and nature centers, scenic drives, camping, bird- or wildlife-watching, kayaking, picnicking, bicycling, fishing, night sky viewing, and swimming. Barely one-third of everyone surveyed even participated in hunting during the year previous to the survey, compared to 72% who hike or run.
Hunters enjoy access to the woods six days a week (and now, thanks to the compromise law, seven days on some occasions). Please allow ONE day to be set aside for quiet enjoyment of the public lands we all share.