An estimated 750,000 hunters are expected to head into the woods Monday for the first day of antlered deer hunting season with firearms, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and the administration is looking for advice from some of them.
Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order formally establishing the Governor’s Advisory Council for Hunting, Fishing and Conservation.
The council will weigh in on "just about every bill" that comes out of the House and Senate Game and Fisheries committees, said gubernatorial advisor Robb Miller.
In addition to legislation, Miller said the 20-member council, comprised of state residents, will also provide advice on proposed policies. Anything from confronting Chronic Wasting Disease in deer to “the use of semi-automatic firearms for hunting,” Miller said.
Among the council’s duties will be to recruit, screen and recommend nominees for the boards of the Fish and Boat Commission and the Game Commission. The advisory council has seen several incarnations since the first one was created during the Ridge administration, he said.
According to Miller, getting the advice of outdoor enthusiasts is important because hunters and anglers directly spend $1.5 billion with a ripple effect of another $1 billion.
“If hunting and angling were a corporation, it would be the third-largest employer in the state,” he said.
Wolf’s executive order also reinstituted the Youth Council for Hunting, Fishing and Conservation, which according to Miller, was discontinued by Gov. Tom Corbett. Miller said he believes young people are less enthusiastic about the outdoors as the previous generation, and restarting the council would spark a renewed interest.
State leaders should care about "where that next generation of conservation leaders is coming from," he said. "Kids aren’t spending time in the outdoors. How are they going to care about it later on?”
Folks interested in volunteering for either councils can email Miller by January 1, he said.