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Night-vision optics can be used by hunters

Furbearer hunters now have the option of using handheld and sporting-arm mounted night-vision and infrared (thermal) optics.

The law that permits these devices to be used while hunting furbearers became effective today, when it was published in Volume 50, No. 45 of the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners in September gave final approval to a regulatory change allowing night-vision and infrared (thermal) optics to be used while hunting furbearers. However, regulatory changes don’t become effective until they’re reviewed and published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, a temporary supplement to the Pennsylvania Code.

With the change now published, and the new law in place, Board of Game Commissioners President Charlie Fox said he was pleased to announce the change, made possible earlier this year through the passage of state House Bill 1188, sponsored by Rep. Parke Wentling, R-Greenville. Previously, all hunting use of night-vision and infrared (thermal) optics was prohibited by state law.

“House Bill 1188, which gives the Game Commission authority to regulate night-vision and infrared optics, became law in July, and the Board of Game Commissioners, that very same month, began the process to allow furbearer hunters to use these devices,” Fox said. “We voted to adopt the change at our next meeting in September, setting the stage for the required, final legal review and publication today in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. At every turn in the process, hunters showed their enthusiasm for this new opportunity, and I’m happy to announce the time now has arrived.”

The change to allow night-vision and infrared (thermal) optics was drafted by the Game Commission’s Bureau of Wildlife Protection, which reviewed data from other states that permit the use of night-vision equipment and determined there were no safety concerns regarding their use for hunting furbearers in Pennsylvania.

There are hunting seasons for the following furbearers: raccoons, foxes, coyotes, opossums, striped skunks, weasels, bobcats and porcupines.

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