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With New Technology, New Reason For Lawmakers to Revisit PA's Game Laws

New technologies that could aid or impede hunting are giving state policymakers reason to revisit the Pennsylvania's game laws.

Measures before the state House and Senate aim to allow things like electronic calls to attract deer, or ban the use of drones by hunters and people suspicious of hunters.

For decades, Pennsylvania hunters — and their regulators — have debated the fine line that separates acceptable hunting aids and being fair to animals being pursued.

"I remember years back, you had heated boots. That was a big technological advance," said Randy Santucci, president of Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania. "You would circulate hot water through the boots. Everybody was all excited: 'Oh, I can sit in the woods longer.'"

Drones, it appears, are the next new thing.

Lawmakers say unmanned aircrafts are being marketed as a means to detect, rouse, and attract game animals. But hunters reserve their ire for the drones marketed to animal rights activists looking to monitor potential abuses. Hunters say those people are trying to sensationalize legal sport.

"It was actually done in another state," said Santucci, laughing. "I think I heard that the drone was shot down from the sportsman that it was harassing."

One such incident was reported by a South Carolina newspaper two years ago. The drone was fragged at a pigeon shoot.

Proposals in the House and Senate would prohibit drones, either for the sake of finding animals to shoot or catching hunters on tape.

A lobbyist for the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs noted that hunters may already be protected from drones by a part of the Game Commission Code prohibiting interference with legal hunting activity.

"That's already on the books," said John Kline, with Kline Associates.

Another Senate proposal would let hunters use electronic calls to lure deer, instead of the approved manual devices. Traditionalists tend to be against such methods, but Santucci said electronic calls are legal for hunting crows, foxes and coyotes.