Pa. House committee OKs hunting, fishing license legislation

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The House Game and Fisheries Committee has reported out legislation that would allow the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to set their own license fees.

Senate Bills 1166 and 1168, approved by the Senate in June, may now be considered in the House.

Currently, hunting and fishing license fees are established – and can only be changed – by legislative action.

Committee chair Rep. Keith Gillespie (R-York) said the proposed change would not be without checks and balances. He said there would be time for public comment and a public hearing would be required. The House and Senate Game and Fisheries committees could vote a resolution recommending disapproval of fee changes, and the governor would have the final say.

The last increase to hunting license fees was in 1999. The last fishing license increase was in 2005.

The Game Commission unveiled a plan last year that would increase the cost of an adult resident hunting license by $20 over five years.

In February, Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough told the House Game and Fisheries Committee that without additional revenues in the near future, the agency would have no choice but to make significant reductions to its budget.

He said the agency may have to close shooting ranges on state game lands, substantially reduce the pheasant-stocking program, and close the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area.

The 6,000-acre Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area, in Lancaster and Lebanon counties, is an annual destination for thousands of snow geese, Canada geese and tundra swans migrating north to their breeding grounds.

The agencies do not receive state funding and are basically supported by the cost of the licenses purchased by hunters and anglers.

Senate Bill 1166 also includes the creation of new senior licenses and an ultimate outdoorsman combination license for bear, archery, muzzleloader, furtaker, migratory game bird, and special wild turkey for both resident and nonresident hunters.

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