Officials continue to tussle over crossbows
By Bob Frye, TRIBUNE-REVIEW OUTDOORS EDITOR
Sunday, April 26, 2009
The debate over crossbows continues in Pennsylvania.
Just when it seems like it's kaput, it comes back to life in startling fashion.
That happened again last week. The crossbow saga â€” which might soon rival "Star Wars" for episodes â€” was guaranteed another sequel courtesy of a last-minute action taken at the Pennsylvania Game Commission meeting.
Early Tuesday, commissioners voted to give final approval to a proposal to allow magnifying scopes to be used on crossbows. That passed 6-1.
The action â€” the latest in a line stretching back more than six months â€” had the look of being the last hurdle to hunters being allowed to use crossbows statewide in all archery seasons starting this fall.
But then, in the two-day meeting's final action, commissioner Ron Weaner of Adams County proposed a change.
Weaner unveiled a four-point proposal. Most significantly, it would prohibit crossbow users from taking part in the archery bear season and limit them to hunting only the first two weeks of the six-week archery deer season.
Weaner explained his thinking by pointing out that no one knows how many people might use a crossbow to hunt deer and bears this fall, or how many animals they might kill. That calls for some caution, he said, while still giving crossbow users more opportunity than they've ever had.
"I'm trying to move into this a little more gradually rather than throwing open the doors with full inclusion," Weaner said.
Some commissioners are leaning the same way.
"I just want to point out, from my point of view, this idea has pretty strong support on the board," said commissioner Tom Boop of Northumberland County. "It's not just commissioner Weaner."
That could prove significant, given the changing makeup of the commission.
The vote to legalize crossbows for archery seasons statewide passed 4-3 in January. Two of those who voted affirmative, though â€” Russ Schleiden or Centre County and Roxane Palone of Greene County â€” are coming off the board. Their terms expired with last week's meeting.
The puts opponents of full inclusion of crossbows in the archery seasons in the majority, at least for now.
One of those is Jay Delaney, a commissioner from Luzerne County. He said Tuesday that crossbows have a place, though he's not sure it's statewide.
Boop agreed, and suggested many hunters do as well. He said most of the 1,000 or so comments he's received on the issue oppose the expansion of crossbow use.
Schleiden â€” the one who first proposed allowing crossbows in archery season â€” disputed that, however. Commissioners receive many of the same comments, he said, and it's untrue they were overwhelmingly against crossbows.
"I call it, at best, at worst, a tossup," Schleiden said.
It's not clear whether commissioners might approve Weaner's proposal, or be able to do so in time to impact the 2009-2010 hunting seasons. But he asked staff to determine what would be required to make that happen.
"My intention is that if it could happen in time for this year, I'd like to see it for this year. I'd like to move it forward as rapidly as possible," Weaner said.
"I just wanted to put it out there for people to be aware what we're thinking."
Here are the specifics of Game Commissioner Ron Weaner's four-point proposal regarding when and if crossbows should be legal for hunting. His proposal would:
â€¢ Continue the existing crossbow permit program, which allows hunters with a doctor's excuse to use a crossbow in any archery season
â€¢ Continue to allow hunters with a muzzleloader license to hunt with a crossbow in the early and late muzzleloader seasons
â€¢ Prohibit the use of crossbows in the archery bear season, except for those with a disabled permit
â€¢ And limit crossbow use to the first two weeks of the six-week statewide archery season.
Commissioner Gregory J. Isabella firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissioner James J. Delaney PGCDistrict7@aol.com
Commissioner Thomas Boop email@example.com
Commissioner David W. Schreffler [firstname.lastname@example.org]email@example.com[/email]
Commissioner Ronald Weaner firstname.lastname@example.org
post edited by SilverKype - 2009/04/27 09:06:57