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Hunting bill allowing use of thermal equipment awaits Wolf’s signature

Legislation allowing the use of thermal and night vision equipment for hunting has been sent to Gov. Tom Wolf for his approval.

Earlier this week, the General Assembly approved House Bill 1188 by a 195-5 vote while the state Senate approved the measure by a 48-1 vote. It was presented to Wolf’s office on Wednesday.

House Bill 1188 removes the restriction on the use of infrared, thermal and similar night vision optics for hunting. The bill does not automatically allow the use of such optics, but allows the Game Commission to permit their use by regulation if it deems appropriate.

“The use of this equipment would greatly benefit predator hunters here in the commonwealth in helping to control populations of predator species, especially coyotes, whose population numbers continue to increase regardless of the fact that they can be hunted 24 hours a day, nearly 365 days a year,” Rep. Parke Wentling, R-Crawford/Erie/Lawrence/Mercer, wrote in his legislative memo accompanying the bill. “Predator populations must be kept in check to help protect, livestock, pets, personal property and further help ensure the personal safety of our constituents.”

The Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen and Conservationists is asking Wolf to sign the legislation. Updating and allowing the use of the most current technology brings Pennsylvania into line with hunting standards associated with the 21st century, the federation said, while making it easier to confirm safe and legal targets and increase accuracy.

“I would like to thank and recognize PFSC Life Member Sheri Baity, a coyote hunter and farmer for the hard work of seeing a need to have the law updated and working to its resolution,” said Harold Daub, federation executive director. “Sheri started her quest in 2017, and working with the PFSC, started the legislative process in April of 2019. Now just a little over one year later, we have another needed update to Pennsylvania’s hunting rules. We would also like to thank both the House Legislative body and the Senate Legislative body for not playing ‘politics’ and weighing this down with amendments. HB1188 is cut and dry; it does precisely what it is designed to do, provide for the most updated use of technology for nighttime hunting.”

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