Kortz, English bipartisan ethical hunting legislation passes House

HARRISBURG, June 21 – State Reps. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, and Hal English, R-Allegheny, today reported that their legislation aimed at not penalizing honest, ethical hunters for a mistaken harvest unanimously passed the House.

Specifically, the bill would remove the threat of a license suspension for those truthful hunters who make an honest mistake and then self-report the mistaken harvest by contacting the Pennsylvania Game Commission, turning in the animal and pleading guilty to the offense.

"Given the facts that borders of Wildlife Management Units and the special areas within them can be easily confused, and that the commission is now using staggered dates around the state for some big-game seasons, hunters can think they are legally hunting when in fact they aren’t," Kortz said. "For hunters who make an inadvertent mistake, due to a few yards or recently changed dates, to face the same revocations as a common poacher who is hunting out of season or at night isn’t fair.

“Current law can create havoc for bear and elk hunters. With different hunting dates for different Wildlife Management Units, the difference of a few yards in the woods can mean the difference between a legal or illegal harvest."

Kortz added, “Mistakes while out in the woods can easily happen. This bill would eliminate the unfair, excessive punishment for an honest mistake. While the hunter must claim responsibility and pay a small administrative fine under this legislation, the bill would eliminate the three-year suspension of hunting privileges both here in Pennsylvania and around the country, and the severe fine.”

The language of H.B. 359 was drafted in a bipartisan effort working closely with the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

The Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs supported the bill.

The legislation now moves to the Senate for further consideration.