Game Commission may ban hiking during hunting seasons

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Big changes may be coming from the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Proposed regulations would ban hiking on state game lands during fall and spring hunting seasons.

Those seasons total 130 days at a time popular among hikers.

“Hikers and sportsmen have a lot in common,” sad Karen Lutz, the Mid-Atlantic Director of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

The main concern among hikers has been over the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Georgia to Maine and invites hundreds across state lines each year.

“We don’t know if that ban is going to affect that Appalachian National Scenic Trail or not, and we can’t seem to get an answer,” Lutz said.

We were able to get an answer from the Game Commission.

“The Appalachian Trail is on the list of trails that specifically would be exempted from needing a use permit or from any sort of prohibition,” Game Commission spokesman Travis Lau said.

Lau brought up another issue that is riling hikers. The Game Commission could require game land hikers to carry a permit year-round.

Trail enthusiasts discussing the topic on an online forum noted that this would be especially unrealistic when it comes to out-of-state hikers.

Although it is still just a proposal, Lutz fears that any extra red tape could serve to deter young people from getting outside. She wonders why this has become an issue.

“If it’s a safety issue, where are the facts? Where is the record of any hikers being shot or nearly shot? I don’t know if they exist,” Lutz said.

The Board of Game Commissioners is scheduled to consider the ruling Jan. 27. A public meeting will be held Sunday.

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