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Legislator Pushes To End PA Blue Law Restricting Hunting On Sundays

In Pennsylvania, it's illegal to hunt on a Sunday. The hunting ban has its roots in the state’s “blue laws," which date back to the late 17th century outlawing certain activities on Sundays.

A new bill sponsored by Senator Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny, Westmoreland) would allow hunters to take part in their sport any day of the week, including Sunday.

In Harrisburg on Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Senate Game and Fisheries Committee held a hearing concerning Senate Bill 1070.

Bud Wills, state trail chair of the Pennsylvania Equine Committee, said allowing hunting on Sundays would discourage the use of state parks and trails.

“Because of the rules and regulations set up by that Game commission, we would basically be out," he said. "There would be no equine or no bicycles allowed to use that during hunting season, so we would lose that thousand miles of trails."

That’s not the only concern of the bill’s opponents. Joel Rotz, director of state governmental relations for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, said the possibility of hunters crossing onto private property is another potential risk.

“Again, it comes down to boundary issues and how do you keep the hunters where they’re supposed to be? Obviously farm lands and game lands intermix all over the state,” Rotz said.

Bryan Burhans, deputy director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, said he rejects claims that hunting is dangerous.

“The accident rate for bowling is higher than hunting," he said. "We must keep perceived safety issues in perspective. A hiker is, by far, more at risk driving their car to the trail head than going on a hike during hunting season."

Brewster, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee, said he believes the only way to solve the impasse is through compromise.

“When I think about Sunday hunting, and it’s just me, I think maybe three Sundays," he said. "Three Sundays out of the whole year. That’s my version. It could be seven, but that’s where you negotiate.”

Pennsylvania is one of 11 states that ban or restrict hunting on Sundays. Others include Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

The bill remains in the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee.