And another X-bow article

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2009/07/07 07:44:23 (permalink)

And another X-bow article

Crossbows caught in the cross hairs this week
Game Commission may amend full inclusion of the weapons for upcoming archery season
Gary Blockus
July 7, 2009

You can't miss the sentence on Page 7 of the new Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest that goes to everyone who purchases a state hunting license this year:

''Also new this year is that archers can use crossbows during the archery deer and archery bear seasons. Being that some hunters will be new to crossbows, keep in mind that they have the same effective range as modern compound bows.''

But later this week, the Pennsylvania Game Commission will address an amendment to limit the use of crossbows during the 2009-10 archery season despite the already published regulations.

The amendment was proposed by Game Commissioner Ronald Weaner of Biglerville, Clearfield County, who said during the PGC's quarterly meetings in April that he thought the United Bowhunters of Pennsylvania made a lot of sense in their opposition to the use of crossbows during public testimony in January.

During that testimony, members of the UBP, who identified themselves as such but then said they were testifying as individuals, made some broad-based statements against anyone who hunted with any weapon more advanced than a compound bow.

''You'll see the rifle hunters coming into our ranks, and it's going to decimate the herd,'' claimed Joe Basile, who identified himself as a UBP member during his testimony in January. ''We don't want more hunters in the woods during archery season. It's a hunter safety issue.''

''Forty percent of rifle hunters will cross over to crossbows,'' declared a UBP member who identified himself as Bill Chalfont during the January meetings.

''There's a difference between being a hunter and a bowhunter,'' said James McCloskey, who also identified himself as a UBP member at the time.

Ron Speiss, another person who testified, said ''a loaded crossbow is for non-ethical hunters and poachers.''

In response to a blog posted on Lehigh Valley Wild (www.blogs.mcall.com/outdoors, entitled ''Crossbows May Be In Jeopardy For Archery Season''), Jennifer W. Sager, who identified herself as legislative committee chairwoman for UBP, wrote, ''The UBP wants to see expansion of hunting opportunities, but with due caution as to not disrupt the current hunting opportunity that so many of us now enjoy. Additionally, the UBP does not wish to deny hunters the current opportunity to hunt with crossbows in the [special regulation areas], nor deny those whom are truly disabled the opportunity to use a crossbow.''

The changes proposed by Weaner would shorten the time crossbow hunters would be allowed to hunt during archery season. It does not include Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5C, 5D and those with valid disable persons permits.

Todd Bromley, the president of the Pennsylvania Crossbow Federation, said. ''We're getting complaints from people who already bought crossbows with the idea they could use them for the entire season, and if this amendment goes through, they won't [be able to].''

When the commissioners voted in April to allow crossbow use during all archery seasons for 2009-10, they added a ''sunset'' provision to revisit the issue after a three-year period in order to accumulate data on crossbow hunting's effects on the population of the herd.

''Our stand,'' Bromley said, ''is that we want to recruit hunters and retain hunters in an era when the number of hunters is in decline. We want to pair experienced hunters with mentored youth. Wouldn't you rather to continue to add hunters to the ranks? If the resource is being harmed, wouldn't you be for cutting the season shorter?''

The amendment was proposed because the terms of two PGC commissioners expired in April and two new commissioners are being sworn in during this week's meetings on Wednesday and Thursday. The new commissioners may have differing opinions than the commissioners they are replacing.

Politics aside, the proposed amendment does not identify how, if it does pass, hunters will be made aware that the regulations are different from those published in the Digest they received when they purchased their hunting licenses.

Would the PGC reprint the Digest and mail out copies to everyone who previously purchased a license? The cost for that would be considerable for a state agency that already is cash-strapped.

Perhaps the best thing the PGC could do is table the amendment for this coming hunting season and address it for the 2010-11 season. It would save time, money, confusion, and the possibility of someone illegally hunting with a crossbow while citing chapter and verse of the regulations they received when they purchased their hunting license.

To see the entire proposed amendment, go on-line to http://www.blogs.mcall.com/outdoors .

gary.blockus@mcall.com


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