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Semiautomatic Rifles OK'd For Small Game, Furbearers, But Not Big Game

Yesterday, 10:15 PM

Guided by scientific survey of state’s hunters, commissioners remove proposal for big-game.

Hunters heading afield in the 2017-18 seasons will be able to carry semiautomatic rifles for hunting small game and furbearers, but not for big game, based on regulatory changes approved today by the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners.

The commissioners in January preliminarily approved a proposal that would have allowed semiautomatic rifles to be used in any season where manually operated centerfire rifles now can be used.

The board today amended that measure, giving final approval to hunting small game and furbearers with semiautomatic rifles beginning in the 2017-18 seasons. It made no changes to the list of lawful sporting arms for hunting big game.

Commissioners said a clear majority of Pennsylvania hunters voiced opposition to hunting big game with semiautomatic rifles at this time, and the board’s vote reflects that opinion.

Between the Board of Commissioners’ preliminary vote and the vote today, Game Commission staff conducted a scientific survey from a random sample of 4,000 of the state’s hunters, more than 2,000 of whom responded. The findings of that survey were presented to the commissioners at the board’s meeting on Monday.

The findings of the survey show clear support for hunting furbearers (55 percent support or strongly support), woodchucks (51 percent support or strongly support) and small game (42 percent support or strongly support, and 12 percent neither support nor oppose) with semiautomatic rifles.

For big game, while 28 percent of survey respondents expressed support or strong support for semiautomatic rifles, 64 percent of respondents said they opposed or strongly opposed semiautomatic rifles for big-game hunting, with 52 percent saying they were strongly opposed.

The results bolstered the expressed opposition to hunting big game with semiautomatic rifles that appeared to a lesser extent in the written comments the Game Commission received in recent months.

“We listened to our hunters,” President Commissioner Brian H. Hoover said.

With the changes, semiautomatic rifles in .22 caliber or less that propel single-projectile ammunition and semiautomatic shotguns 10 gauge or smaller propelling ammunition not larger than No. 4 lead – also No. 2 steel or No. 4 composition or alloy – will be legal firearms for small-game seasons in the 2017-18 license year, which begins July 1.

Semiautomatic firearms that propel single-projectile ammunition also will be legal sporting arms for woodchucks and furbearers, and there is no caliber restriction for woodchucks or furbearers.

The measure also approves the use of air guns for hunting small game and furbearers.

Air-guns will be legal for small game in calibers from .177 to .22 that propel single-projectile pellets or bullets.

For woodchucks and furbearers, air-guns must be at least .22 caliber and propel a single-projectile pellet or bullet. BB ammunition is not authorized for small game, furbearers or woodchucks.

Pennsylvania historically prohibited the use of semiautomatic rifles for hunting, but a law that took effect in November enables the Game Commission to regulate semiautomatic rifles and air guns for hunting.

With today’s vote, Pennsylvania becomes the last state in the nation to approve semiautomatic rifles for hunting uses.

Following their vote, the commissioners said if growing support for hunting big game with semiautomatic rifles emerges at some point in the future, they will give consideration to further regulatory changes.

Fact-finding by Pennsylvania Game Commission staff revealed no higher incidence of hunting accidents in any state where semiautomatics are permitted, and many firearms experts have said they believe semiautomatics are safer in that they allow for continuous focus on the target and often require the shooter to absorb less recoil.

The survey on hunting with semiautomatic rifles also showed greater support among younger age groups for semiautomatic rifle hunting, including the use of semiautomatic rifles to hunt big game.

But no such provision will be adopted for the 2017-18 license year.

Today is National Puppy Day

23 March 2017 - 10:39 AM

Show us your puppies...

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Sandy Township police officers commended for ‘heroic efforts’ saving m

22 March 2017 - 07:25 AM

DuBOIS — Three Sandy Township police officers were commended at Monday’s supervisors’ meeting for their heroic efforts when a man dove into a freezing lake and they saved him.

At 12:09 a.m. March 12, the police department received a call from a resident who lives at 155 Woolendean Road, in Treasure Lake, Chief Don Routch said. She said that her son, Justin Wagner, had just been involved in a physical fight with his girlfriend. She stated that Wagner had left the residence on foot and said he was going to kill himself. She gave officers a description of her son, Routch said.

Officers responded to the area and encountered a man who was standing at the lake’s edge by the Lakeview Lodge and the breast of the lake.

Sgt. Kris Kruzelak, Officer Ken Kiehlmeier and Officer Jesse Cole walked down to the man, asked if he was Wagner, and he confirmed he was. In speaking to Wagner, he indicated that he was planning to kill himself by jumping into the lake and drowning. He also indicate that he had been in an altercation with his girlfriend, Routch said.

The officers spoke to Wagner for about 30 to 40 minutes to move away from the water as the temperature was 14 degrees F and that they could get him some help or talk in the patrol car, Routch said. While the officer was negotiating with Wagner, he stated numerous times that he was going to jump into the lake. Officers requested assistance from DuBois City Police and requested EMS and Sandy Township Fire Department water rescue.

Wagner then turned from the officers and ran into the lake and dove in, Routch said. All officers then immediately reacted and chased Wagner into the water, due to a drop of approximately 25 feet from the shore Wagner was fully submerged under water.

Cole reached out and due to the drop off also was submerged under water. Kruzelak and Kiehlmeier were trying to tread water and were able to grab Cole and pull him to where they could touch, Routch said. Cole was able to grab Wagner by the hood of his coat where he was pulled closer to shore. Wagner did resist while being pulled into the shore, he also resisted briefly at the shore where he finally conceded and stated, “I give up, I’m done.”

Wagner was taken into custody and custody was immediately transferred to paramedics for treatment. All officers had to immediately receive medical treatment for hypothermia and were transported to Penn Highlands Emergency Room along with Wagner, Routch said.

Wagner’s girlfriend was taken to Penn Highlands for injuries to her face, she was treated and release. She stated to officers at the hospital that she and Wagner were in her vehicle when he engaged her in an argument. She stated that Wagner slapped her with an open hand in the car. They then arrived at the residence on Wollendean where the argument continued with Wagner slapping her a couple more times. Officer Goodman did observe an injury to her lip and also on her cheek. Tellerico was unsure of how many times she was struck. She did state that he did strike him in self defense to get him off of her.

The officers that were involved sustained injuries and damage to equipment. Damage to equipment were three tasers, three portable radios, flashlights and officers’ uniform. An estimate for these damages will easily exceed $5,000, Routch said.

I just wanted to make the supervisors aware of that and these guys risked their own safety by pulling this guy up out of there,” Routch said. “I think it was pretty heroic for what they did and I just wanted to make you aware of it.”

Manager Dave Monella also commended the officers along with the fire department and rescue team.

“Everybody, as far as I’m concerned, did what they had to do that evening,” Monella said. “I had the opportunity to talk to Sgt. Kruzelak the Monday after that and a lot of things were going through his head, did he make the right calls, could it have been different? We could armchair quarterback all we want, it was a split-second decision. It was an at-the-moment kind of thing that these guys had to do. My hat is off to every one of the people that were, unfortunately, participants in that whole situation. It was 17 degrees out that night. It was cold.”

Supervisor Andy Shenkle said it’s really impressive how the officers react and perform their jobs in the township.

“It’s just remarkable,” Shenkle said.

The rest of the supervisors echoed Monella’s and Shenkle’s sentiments.

Found Dog in Penfield

21 March 2017 - 10:24 PM

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Happy 1st Birthday Sienna & Midget

13 March 2017 - 01:54 AM

Hard to believe they are a year old today!! They each got their own cake that said "Happy 1st Birthday Sienna or Midge"

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