Sunday restrictions on hunting in the state of Pennsylvania extend back more than 150 years. Their origins can be attributed to widespread “blue laws” that restricted business on Sundays due to religious influence. House Bill 1760 if voted into law would lift the ban on Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania and has been the focus of impassioned debate by both its advocates and opponents. The primary issue that concerns those in opposition to the ban on Sunday Hunting cite safety concerns. For many bird watchers and nature lovers outside of the hunting and fishing ranks Sundays offer an opportunity for them to explore the fields and woodlands without hunter interference. If House Bill 1760 were to become passed into law that level of seclusion would become greatly reduced.
A number of past attempts to legalize Sunday Hunting have been met with opposition and effectively tabled by the House in years past. The reason for the stifling of these past bills is the opposition by those same outdoor enthusiasts that are outside of the hunting demographic. While they are the minority they do have just as much right to enjoy public lands as anyone else.
The issue becomes even more complex when the economic factors associated with the Bill are considered. Research organizations have determined that by passing the bill the state would increase related job positions by more than 5,000 positions and would stimulate the economy to the tune of at least an additional 600 million dollars. Those factors are not easily overlooked in the context of an economic recession and 9% unemployment rates nationwide.
At the heart of the two sides of this bill are the issues of safety and sharing the state’s natural woodlands and wildlife for all parties interested. The PA Hunting season, in its current structure, begins in October and runs through January. Hunting is allowed Monday through Saturday with the exception of fox, coyote, and crows permitted all week. Including Sunday would have a detrimental effect on the non hunting demographic that enjoys the use of the state designated game lands.
So despite the positive economic influences to the overall welfare of the state and its residents the issue is far from black and white. On one side are those that seek to legalize hunting on Sundays for economic stimulus and personal enjoyment. On the other are those opposed to Sunday hunting because they feel that it threatens their safety and ability to enjoy nature for reasons outside of hunting and fishing pursuits. Both parties claims are valid and both should be entitled to their time to enjoy state designated resources. This fact may prove as an impasse on Bill 1760’s road to becoming a law.