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Thermal, night vision equipment could be allowed for hunting

Pennsylvania hunters could be allowed to use thermal and night vision equipment for hunting.

The Pennsylvania state Senate’s Game and Fisheries Committee on Wednesday moved five pieces of legislation on for consideration in the full Senate, including House Bill 1188, which 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 Game and Fisheries Committee also approved four other pieces of legislation that will now be considered by the state Senate. They are:

¯ House Bill 1003, which empowers the Fish and Boat Commission to issue citations for failure to mark head or run-of-the-river dams. A first-degree summary offense would result in a $250 fine with subsequent third-degree misdemeanor charges resulting in fines between $250 and $5,000. Anyone who fails to maintain marking signs or buoys for run-of-the-river dams would face a second-degree summary offense for a first citation with a $150 fine while subsequent instances would be graded a first-degree summar offense with a fine of $250.

¯ House Bill 1185 increases or clarifies several sections of state law, including instances of intentionally or recklessly destroyuing or damaging to Fish and Boat Commission property, operating motorboats while under the influence of a substance, with a minor on board and/or without the proper safety education certificates; or reckless or with gross negligence causing serious bodily injury to another.

¯ Senate Bill 1074 amends the Fish Code regarding fishing licenses so that proof of a fishing license purchase could be shown with a mobile device rather than requiring an ink-signed paper license.

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