For you pheasant hunters, especially ones with hunting dogs and who love to watch their four-legged hunters work, there’s bad news.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) issued a notice that the agency is closing down two pheasant farms, one at the Western Game Farm in Crawford County, the other at the Northcentral Game Farm in Lycoming County. The result will be less pheasants to stock and of course the elimination of 14 employees that will be take effect Jan. 27.
According to the PGC, the decision to close the farms was strictly a financial one since the agency faces an $8 million budget shortfall in the coming fiscal year.
Since revenue from the sale of hunting and furtaker licenses makes up the majority of the PGCs budget, they blame it on the General Assembly who did not approve a much-needed increase in license-fee revenue. The agency said it enters a third decade without an increase in the cost of a hunting/furtaker license.
So the closing of the two farms will reportedly save the PGC about $1.5 million in the next fiscal year.
Said PGC Executive Director R. Matthew Hough, “Our employees at the two farms worked hard throughout their careers to make our pheasant propagation program the best it can be. They’ve done an outstanding job, and it’s tough to look them in the eyes and tell them their positions are being eliminated – especially at this time of year. But as an agency that has not seen its primary revenue source increase in almost 18 years, it – unfortunately – is necessary to make these types of reductions.”
The PGC will continue to operate the Loyalstock Game Farm in Lycoming County and the Southwest Farm in Armstrong County. As such, Bob Boyd, head of the PGCs’ pheasant propagation program, said the agency will strive to produce the same quality of birds it has. However, pheasant production will decrease overall in 2017-18 due to the closures. But Boyd indicates he hopes to release about 170,000 (200,000 stocked in 2016) pheasants for hunting in the fall of 2017.
Perhaps to compensate for this financial bind, the PGC’s Board of Commissioners are considering adopting regulations to create a “pheasant hunting permit” as a requirement to hunt Pennsylvania pheasants. The current proposed cost of the permit is $25 for adults and $1 for junior hunters. This revenue could sustain the program into the future. Again, this proposal and fee would have to be approved by the General Assembly.
The PGCs latest attempt to get a license increase came in the form of Senate Bill 1166, which was supported by all major sporting groups including PA Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, United Bowhunters of PA, National Wild Turkey Federation, Quality Deer Management , Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited and others.
In his announcement, Hough put sportsmen on notice that without a license revenue increase, additional programs will have to be reduced or eliminated.
2017 STATE LEGISLATIVE SESSION
As per the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen Club Association, here is a sampling of bills affecting sportsmen that will be re-introduced for the 2017 legislative session:
HCO 26: Authorizes the PA Game Commission to provide for Sunday hunting.
HCO 192: Creates a “mentored junior hunting program” to compliment the existing youth and adult mentor programs, extending the benefits of mentored hunting to those individuals in the youth and adult mentor programs, extending the benefits of mentored hunting to those individuals in the 12-17-year-old age bracket.
HCO 195: Prohibits government entities or any public or private person from compiling registries and databases of firearm ownership except regarding criminal activities.
HCO 212: Provides the Attorney General with guidance when reviewing other states’ laws for the purpose of recognizing each state’s license to carry a concealed firearm in PA.
HCO 300: Creates a two-tiered system for the concealed carrying of firearms for lawful purposes in PA.
HCO 363: Codifies current Game Commission regulations which limit the number of antlerless deer licenses a person may receive in a license year to three.
HCO 374: Divides the current 8the Game Commission district into two, establishing a new 9th district that would include Berks, Lehigh and Northampton counties.
HCO 376: Restricts certain turkey calling practices.
SCO 270: Eliminates all but the familiar transfer exception to the requirement of a background check prior to the purchase or transfer of a firearm with a new provision to permit the issuance of a single background check approval.
SCO 315: Gives the Game Commission the authority to establish the fees that it charges for hunting/fur taking licenses.
If you’re interested in any of these proposed bills, it would behoove you to contact your local state representatives and encourage them to vote in favor of these bills.
CABELA’S HAMBURG OFFERS FREE SEMINARS
Beginning January 7 and 8, Cabela’s Hamburg will offer the following free seminars:
* Ice Fishing: Will explain what is needed to enjoy the sport
* Archery Challenge: An introduction into the shooting sports
* Reloading 101: A course on reloading ammo to save money
* 9 Week Fly Tying Course: Teaching the basics with hands-on experience with a trip to a local stream to practice. Class is limited to 15 people so pre-registration is required.
On January 14 & 15 the store will offer Compound/Traditional Bow Basics; Animal ID with Outfitter Tom is a great family seminar featuring a collection of animal hides, pelts and artifacts as learning aides, as well as the tracks these animals leave behind; Tent Pitching Competition will test your skills in a one, two and group tent pitching contest. Prizes will be awarded for the fastest team who properly pitched the tent in each category.
Then on Jan. 28, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., the store will host a “Super Bowl Sunday Sampler” where Cabela’s Outfitters will cook wild game and fish snacks with an opportunity for patrons to try out fryers, jerky makers and dehydrators, to name a few.
For information on all these and other events check www.cabelas.com/hamburg or call the store at 610-929-7089.
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Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.