Mullery introduces antlerless deer hunting license and body-grabbing trap penalties legislation

HARRISBURG, Jan. 22 –  State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne, introduced two pieces of legislation seeking to amend the Pennsylvania Game and Wildlife Code.

House Bill 207 would allow hunters to apply for doe licenses online.

“It’s time to upgrade our antiquated system and provide sports enthusiasts with a more convenient and efficient way of applying for and receiving hunting licenses,” said Mullery.

Currently, hunters apply for antlerless deer licenses by sending an application to a county treasurer or similar official. Mullery said many counties do not have the financial resources or staff to process license applications in a timely manner.

“In this day and age, there is no reason why a Pennsylvania resident should not be able to get an antlerless license online,” Mullery added.

The Luzerne County lawmaker said the current system is managed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. That state agency is responsible for determining the number of antlerless licenses to be given out, while the actual distribution of permits is the responsibility of each county Treasurer’s office. While applying for a doe license, hunters across the state fill out a form, write a check and submit it to the county treasurer in their hometown.

“We have a lot of hunters out there who were excluded from participating in hunting in the past because of the antiquated and understaffed application process and I don’t want to see that happen again,” Mullery said.

Mullery’s legislation has the full support of the Pennsylvania Game Commission and several sportsmen groups throughout the commonwealth.

The second bill, H.B. 119, would increase the penalty for illegally setting body-gripping traps. This bill passed the House of Representatives unanimously last session but failed to move in the Senate.

State law requires all body-gripping traps to be set inside an established watercourse, waterway, marsh, pond, or dam.

“Unfortunately, body-gripping traps are often illegally placed outside these water locations, inadvertently luring dogs and other domestic animals, which are often seriously injured or killed by the traps,” said Mullery.

The frequency and severity of this problem prompted the Pennsylvania Game Commission to restrict the size of openings for these traps to reduce the number of domestic animals being killed or injured by them.

“Even with this size restriction, I believe it is necessary to strengthen the penalty for those who place these traps in unapproved and illegal locations,” Mullery said.

Mullery’s bill would raise the penalty from a fine of up to $200 to a fine of up to $1,500 and up to three months in prison.

Both bills are awaiting committee assignments for further consideration.