By Chairman of the Board Steve Mohr
House Bill 1683
Unified is the principal endorser of HB 1683, Rep. David Maloney’s bill for “Pennsylvania Game Commission Accountability and Wildlife/Habitat Enhancement”. The bill has recently been introduced within the House of Representatives, and all Unified members are encouraged to ask their state representatives and senators to enthusiastically support the bill and to sign on as cosponsors of the bill. This bill is one of the most important pieces of legislation in decades. It is designed to hold the PGC accountable for mismanagement of deer and other wildlife resources and for the broad-scale improvement of wildlife habitat as it influences the health of deer, grouse, and an estimated 150 species of game and nongame wildlife. The bill will assure the Commission’s financial responsibility and accountability. The official bill memorandum (summary) and the entire bill can be reviewed at the Pennsylvania House of Representatives website as listed under its prime sponsor, Rep. David Maloney.
Some details of the bill include ending antler restrictions for senior hunters, returning to a county-based system of WMUs, ending DMAP on public lands, and returning to a science-based method of deer management that reduces deer densities in urban and highly-developed suburban areas while increasing deer populations in forested and rural regions. The bill is designed to balance deer numbers with forest habitat in order to maximize the annual harvest while sustaining the health and productivity of the forest for both game and nongame wildlife.
HB 1683 includes provisions toward controlling the spread of CWD in Pennsylvania and halting current programs that may be accelerating the spread of the disease. It does not promote the broad-scale targeted killing of deer which is counterproductive to the long-term control of CWD. HB 1683 will serve as a vital management response to control CWD and hold the disease at bay until vaccines are developed at the New Orleans lab and field tested in Pennsylvania.
It should be emphasized that the bill does not place control of the agency into the hands of the State Legislature, but instead sets up an independent team of wildlife biologists, disease-control scientists, and foresters who will assure that PGC wisely manages deer, CWD control, wildlife resources, and habitat according to sound science principles, and provides the Legislature with the ability to hold the agency accountable for its actions. The bill will assure that PGC adheres to its State Law Title 34 mission and the Pennsylvania Constitution.
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