The QDMA is a national nonprofit wildlife conservation organization dedicated to ensuring the future of white-tailed deer, wildlife habitat and our hunting heritage. The QDMA has 50,000 members nationwide with Pennsylvania ranking fifth in statewide membership. Our membership includes more than 2,500 of the nation’s leading wildlife and forestry professionals. As such, QDMA is widely regarded as the most respected whitetail organization in the United States.
On behalf of the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) we are writing to provide support for the repeal of the provision relating to the Sunday hunting prohibition.
The QDMA advocates the legalization of Sunday Hunting in Pennsylvania for the following reasons:
• Sunday hunting will provide additional recreational opportunity for Pennsylvania hunters
• Sunday hunting will provide additional opportunity for hunters to help the Pennsylvania Game Commission manage deer and other wildlife populations where necessary
• Sunday hunting will increase hunter participation and recruitment rates
• Sunday hunting will help rural economies
Hunters play an important role in Pennsylvania’s societal and economic well-being. Hunters provide a free ecological service to society by managing deer and other wildlife populations and provide more than $1.5 billion annually to Pennsylvania’s economy. Unfortunately the number of hunters in Pennsylvania is decreasing. Currently, Pennsylvania only recruits 68 hunters for every 100 it loses. One suggested reason for this decline is the lack of available time for hunting.
The addition of Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania can provide additional time for hunting and help slow this negative trend. Many hunters are limited in their hunting activity to weekends due to long work weeks and conflicts with other social activities. Essentially, the addition of Sunday hunting would effectively double the number of available days for this segment of the hunting population.
Similarly, it would provide ample opportunity for youth to hunt without conflicting with school or team sports (which typically occur on Saturdays), and therefore help hunter recruitment rates. For these reasons the QDMA urges you to support the repeal of the Sunday Hunting prohibition and one of the last remaining blue laws in the Commonwealth.
Thank you for your time and your commitment to Pennsylvania’s natural resources.
The Facts and Only the Facts on Sunday Hunting and Hunting in General
State Representatives John Evans and Ed Staback recently introduced a bill on the controversial topic of Sunday Hunting. This paper will serve to present the facts on the bill so everyone can understand what exactly it does; and does not do; as well as remove some of the misconceptions regarding Sunday hunting and hunting in general.
HB 1760 does not mandate that all Sundays be included in our seasons and bag limits.
That is regulatory in nature, requiring a majority of our Board of Game Commissioners vote in support of any expansion of the program to include Sundays. They may choose to implement groundhog hunting on Sundays.
Groundhogs are a nuisance to farmers, and can be shot from a stationary position; allowing our youth to be introduced to hunting in a safe and ethical manner while providing a necessary service to our farmers.
The bill simply removes the prohibition and allows the Game Commission to use Sunday hunting as a tool for making appropriate management decisions that not only benefit the wildlife of the Commonwealth, but all of its citizens.
Hunting is safe
One common misconception is that hikers and bird watchers won’t have an opportunity to go into the woods without hunters present. They can’t now. Hunting is currently permitted on Sundays for crows, foxes and coyote. In fact, one can hunt coyote 24 hours a day, seven days a week if so inclined.
Those who falsely put out rhetoric that being in the woods alongside of hunters is unsafe miss the mark.
There are perhaps two Sundays I know that has may have a large of an impact on the woods, and that would be the Sunday in the middle of deer rifle season and the Sunday in the middle of bear season. Neither is mandated by the bill.
This year, bear would fall on November 20th and deer would fall on December 3rd. Most hikers and bird watchers are out through the spring, summer and fall while the migratory birds are in PA and weather is seasonal.
According to figures from the US Safety Council, hunting is one of the safest sports out there.
Injuries per 100,000 participants per year:
Football- 2,171.1; Baseball - 2,089.6; Soccer - 910; Bicycle riding - 904.6; Skateboarding - 869.2; Horseback riding - 464.6; Fishing - 141.2; Tennis -119.7; Golf - 104.4; Swimming - 93.3; Hunting - 8.0.
Most hunting injuries are hunters falling from their tree stands, not from people getting mistakenly hit with a bullet or an arrow.
According to figures from the US Safety Council, hunting related deaths are exceptionally minimal. It’s even lower for non-participants.
The following figures are DEATH related incidents by category per 100,000 participants.
You have a better chance being killed by the following than you do hunting:
Automobiles - 18.6; Home accidents - 8.6; Falls -5.0, Hunting (among participants) - 0.85; Lightning - 0.04; Insect stings - 0.02; Hunting (among non-participants) - 0.001
Car, home accidents, falling, being stung by a bee, or even struck by lightning are all more dangerous than being in the woods during hunting season.
"..the [U.S.] National Safety Council reports for 1988 there were 161 hunting fatalities, 49 of which were self-inflicted. Thanks in part to hunter safety education classes, hunting fatalities have declined by more than 50 percent over the last two decades."
In general, three-quarters of the hunters who have accidents have not taken hunter safety education courses. [Report of International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Hunter Education Study Team. "Hunter Education in the United Statesand Canada with Recommendations for Improvement." (Fred. G. Evenden, Team Leader). Bethesda, Maryland. 1990 112p.]
Hunting is one of the safest sports there are.
Every hunter in Pennsylvania is required to take hunter trapper education where they are taught to know their target and beyond. You have a higher likelihood of drowning in your bath tub or even playing billiards than you have dying by in a hunting related incident.
Participating in hunting today is safer than swimming, bicycling, playing baseball, golf, tennis, touch football, basketball, fishing, horseback riding, and driving to the place where you are going to hunt, if you look at the numbers of injuries per 100,000 people participating in various sports compiled by the National Safety Council.
On the average, only one non-hunter is injured by a hunter for every 12 million recreation days of hunting. A non-hunter is 20 times more likely to die from stinging insects than wounding by a hunter.
Those who sensationalize this by using fear by saying sharing the woods with hunters is unsafe are either ignorant of the facts or oppose hunting all together. The facts presented here are not refutable and will allow people to make more informed choices when they write their representatives and senators. It also relieves fears that many people have about the overall safety of hunting.
A suggested read is: James A. Swan. 1995. "In Defense of Hunting". HarperCollins Publishers, New York. ISBN 0-06-251237-4
The Effects of Sunday Hunting on Hunter Recruitment and Retention
Hunter recruitment and retention rates have been declining not only in Pennsylvania, but on a national level. Work and other commitments are all barriers to hunting participation. Recent Pennsylvania trend analysis shows that for every 100 hunters we lose to age, death, and other factors, we gain only 68.
Several studies have been launched that ask hunters what factors would encourage them to hunt more and what factors might encourage them to return to hunting.
The highly regarded human dimensions specialists; Responsive Management conducted an important investigation in Pennsylvania called Factors Related to Hunting Participation in Pennsylvania.
In asking respondents what factors would STRONGLY encourage them to hunt more or restart hunting; Sunday Hunting was listed by thirty eight percent of respondents (15).
The only factors statistically higher in the ratings were having a child ask to be taken hunting; and if hunting were offered as part of a vacation package. In a virtual statistical tie were more opportunities to hunt big game; if more land were open to public hunting; and receiving an invitation from a friend. That number jumps to fifty two percent when asked what factors would strongly or moderately encourage them to hunt (citing Sunday hunting).
Thirty two percent of hunters cite time constraints due to work obligations as a reason for not hunting as avidly or being a churn hunter (Churn hunters are those who may buy a license on an intermittent basis) (16).
With the traditional work week being Monday through Friday, Sunday Hunting would encourage those participants to hunt more or to return to hunting. Fifty nine percent of inactive hunters and former hunters said Sunday Hunting would moderately or strongly encourage them to hunt more or return to hunting (28). Interestingly, half (26) of the 2001 license holders cited work obligations, and twenty one percent of respondents cite lack of Sunday hunting opportunity as the top two issues that took away from their enjoyment in hunting in Pennsylvania (17).
) PP 15, 16, 17, 26, 27
Youth hunting and recruitment of our youth are the number one factor that will retain hunters and return churn hunters (casual hunters that do not hunt every year) to the hunting fraternity. Our youngest youth hunters are the most limited due to time constraints of all other age classes of hunters to hunt.
During the deer season specifically, most of our youth hunters are dropped off by the bus at around 4:00 PM. Hunting hours end at approximately 5:05 (14). Most youth do not have the ability to hunt after school given the time they get home, and at a minimum, they would need to change clothes and drive to their hunting location. At most, our youngest hunters who we look to recruit and retain are limited to the first day if their school is closed that day and two Saturdays. Sunday hunting would effectively give our young hunters one extra day to hunt during the deer rifle season if deer hunting is ever implemented.
Who Should be Responsible for the Regulation of Sunday Hunting
In the legislative budget and finance committee report regarding Sunday hunting, only eighteen percent of respondents who hunt and 37% of landowners believe the legislature should have the authority to add Sundays as a day to hunt (17). http://lbfc.legis.state.pa.us/
Recreational and Hunting Access to Public Land
Public Land accounts for nearly five million acres of accessible land to the hunting public. State, federal and local government land holdings account for 31% of forest land or 4,839,000 acres.
Because public land is a multi-use and shared resource with all of the Commonwealth’s citizens, human dimensions must play a role in the decision making process.
The comprehensive report titled “Recreation on the Tiadaghton and Tioga State Forests: A Survey of User Characteristics, Behaviors and Attitudes” (2008) by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources shows the vast majority of state park users feel safe using the park (90%; page 20), in spite of the fact that 1/5th of the parks users were cited as saying they were hunting during these visits when the survey was taking place. (One in every five visitors was a hunter) Hunters, hikers and birdwatchers have spent the last several decades sharing the woods.
Hunting was also cited as a number one factor by people went to the park or forest (19.5%) and was only surpassed by the answers of “I enjoy being in the forest” and “I want to spend time with family and friends” (page 33).
It is important to note that hunters have funded the purchase of 1,500,000 acres of State Game Lands; included in the figures above, with their share of monies collected through Pittman Robertson Funding (a tax on sporting arms and ammunition) and their hunting license dollars. That accounts for nearly 1/3 of the public land in Pennsylvania. The Game Commission receives no general fund monies.
Recreational and Hunting Access on Private Land by Type
According to the USDA data, in 2002, there were 58,209 farms in Pennsylvania totaling 7.7 million acres, or just 27 percent of all the land in Pennsylvania. Thirty-eight percent of farms are very small, or less than 50 acres, while only 4 percent have at least 500 acres.
Farm size can also be examined by sales. Sixty-one percent of farms in the Commonwealth each sold less than $10,000 of agricultural products in 2002, while 23 percent sold $50,000 or more.
Pennsylvania farms are under a variety of ownership types. The majority, 91 percent, are family or individual sole proprietorships. Partnerships are the second most common type with 6 percent. The remaining 3 percent of farms are under other types of ownership such as corporations (family held or otherwise), cooperatives, institutions, and estates or trusts.
Another measure with regard to farming is gross income. Currently 44% of all farm receipts (income), come from 5 counties; Lancaster, Chester, Berks, Franklin and Lebanon.
The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau currently (PFB) opposes Sunday Hunting, and has threatened to close their lands if Sunday hunting is implemented. This hyperbole has been threatened in Ohio, New York and in several other states; however; it has never materialized.
Farmers Get Help Shooting Game for Crop Damage
The Pennsylvania Game Commission and hunters have been very cooperative with farmers. Farmers have tools that are unavailable in most other states that allow them to shoot deer 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. These “depredation permits” are at discretion of the farmer provided that there is on-going crop damage.
Legislation enacted in 2007 (Game Code Section 147.761-765), allows farmers to get additional help in controlling the number of wildlife causing damage to farm crops.
Farmers may obtain permits from the Game Commission authorizing up to two subpermittees other than family members and employees to assist the farmer in shooting game for crop damage. Subpermittees must be PA residents and hold a current PA hunting license to qualify.
Game may be taken 24-hours-per-day under this new provision. Under this program game taken may not be kept for personal consumption, but may be given to authorized food banks and organizations like “Hunters Sharing the Harvest” for distribution to the needy. Donation to qualifying food banks must be coordinated and approved by your Game Commission regional office. All game taken must be reported to the Game Commission within 24-hours.
Additional tools are available to farmers on top of the depredation permits. Red tag and DMAP (Deer Management Assistance Program) are two other ways farmers can help control deer populations on their farms by using hunters, and can be found on the PFB web site linked above.
In addition to farms, private forestland owners hold the majority of Pennsylvania’s forest land. An estimated 533,000 private owners own 71 percent of the forest (11.7 million acres). The broadest grouping of private owners is corporate and noncorporate.
The 506,000 non-corporate owners account for 82 percent of Pennsylvania’s private forest (9.6 million acres); families and individuals are the dominant group in this category and overall.
Miscellaneous non-corporate owners include nongovernmental organizations, e.g., Boy Scouts of America, clubs e.g., hunting clubs, and associations (4 percent).
Corporate owners account for the remaining 18 percent (2.1 million acres) of Pennsylvania’s private forests.
Private individual and families own 54% of all forest land for a total of 8,906,000 acres in Pennsylvania with private companies owning another 17% or 2,832,000 acres or 11 million acres in all.
That same research shows that over fifty percent of forest land owners purchased their land primarily because they want to hunt.
Some will lead you to believe that the addition of Sunday Hunting will increase posting of private property.
Research shows posting land is already an ongoing issue.
A study conducted by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences by Gary San Julian and his students in 2003 show seven of every ten properties in Pennsylvania are already posted; a trend that has continued for decades.
"When land is posted, the common assumption is that the owners do not want any hunting on their land," explains Jagnow. "Our data suggests that this may not be the case at all. Clearly, owners want to control who is on their land. But just because land is posted doesn't mean that hunting with permission is strictly prohibited. Three quarters of posting landowners still allow some hunting on their properties."
Economic Effects of Sunday Hunting
The economic impact of Sunday hunting has been explored by several groups; including the Pennsylvania legislature.
An economic impact report released by a coalition of America’s leading conservation, sportsmen’s and hunting organizations has found that removal of Sunday hunting restrictions would result in an estimated 8,190 new jobs in Pennsylvania. The report also notes that these jobs would pay more than $245 million in wages and contribute approximately $765 million in additional economic activity to the state. http://www.nssf.org
Another study conducted in 2005 by the Pennsylvania Budget and Finance Committee found that Sunday Hunting would have an economic impact of up to $629 million and add 5,300 new jobs.
With today’s tough economic times and Pennsylvania ranking lower than the national average with unemployment; the added benefit of hunting can improve these numbers even more, boosting local economies and providing a solid; reliable tax base.
No Species Has Ever Been Driven to Extinction With Regulated Hunting
Despite hyperbole from some, there has never been an instance of a species being driven to extinction with regulated hunting, and Sunday hunting won’t change that. In fact, neighboring New York State has kept harvest statistics by date and they allow deer hunting on Sundays.
Page eight of the report clearly shows Sundays have far less of an impact on harvest than do Saturdays. Page two shows the five year trend has remained relatively stable. It’s important to note that Sunday hunting [for deer] was first implemented in New York in 1996 and in 2010 the overall deer harvest estimates continue a slightly upward harvest trend with 230,100 deer harvested. The five year average trend analysis shows the average harvest over that period is 206,848.
There is no indication that Sunday hunting will have an adverse effect on game populations. Harvests are driven by a combination of season length and allocation. One cannot work without the other as was shown in the data set above from New York.
In a resolution crafted in June by the Pennsylvania Game Commission Board of Commissioners, the Commissioners stated:
“Whereas, Sunday hunting, which is currently permitted to control a growing population of coyotes, will provide the biologists of the Pennsylvania Game Commission a new tool to manage wildlife populations, and
“Whereas, the forty-three states that currently permit Sunday hunting have not experienced any discernable impact on the health or vibrancy of game populations
In fact, Sunday hunting may have the ability to alleviate issues in game populations.
Chronic Wasting Disease(CWD) is the AIDS of the deer herd and has recently been found just ten miles from Pennsylvania’s border. It is no longer a matter of “if” Pennsylvania will get CWD, it’s a matter of “when”; and can have devastating effects on local deer herds.
Closely related to scrapie in sheep and mad cow disease in cattle, and Crutzfeld Jacob Syndrome in humans, CWD It is a progressive and always fatal disease of the nervous system. Scientists theorize CWD is caused by an agent called a prion that is capable of transforming normal brain proteins into an abnormal form, in turn causing the death of brain cells. There is no evidence that CWD can transmit to humans or livestock to date.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), in its Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan states use of hunters as one method determined effective in controlling the spread of CWD.
Sunday hunting, combined with other days of harvests within the containment zone would be an effective management tool as the typical work week is Monday through Friday; with many people working on Saturday.
Wisconsin, a state similar to Pennsylvania with size in area, number of deer and number of hunters; instituted Sunday Hunting in their CWD containment zone and continue to have a sustainable harvest of deer in those zones with seasons beginning September 17th and ending March 31st.
Sundays are included in the entire CWD zone as an integral part of their CWD Response and Management Plan.
The Pennsylvania State Chapter of the Quality Deer Management Association urges the legislature to repeal the prohibition of Sunday Hunting and place the responsibility of management into the hands of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.