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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Allow Sunday deer hunts!

Monday was the opening day of deer season.
Schools and factories closed in acknowledgement (or based on the long-standing assumption) that too many employees would take the day off anyway.
The designation of the first Monday after Thanksgiving as an unofficial holiday is threatened by a push to allow Sunday hunting. Opponents cite a number of concerns. Some point to the tired traditional objections that have underpinned many of the blue laws that have slowly faded away as society becomes more diverse.
A related concern stems from the potential for conflict between landowners and hunters. Critics of Sunday hunting say that landowners who now allow hunting most of the time see Sunday as a welcome day of peace, absent of gunfire. Faced with the prospect of hunters in the field every day, many property owners may cease allowing any hunting, under this logic.
Last year, hunters in Pennsylvania killed 316,000 deer, up from 309,000 a year earlier. But the deer harvest in both years is substantially less than the hunters had achieved in prior years. The deer harvest exceeded 500,000 twice, hitting 517,000 in 2002 and then declining since.
Proponents of Sunday hunting said the move would be an economic boon. A recent state-funded study estimated that Sunday hunting would generate $804 million in annual spending, and help support more than 7,000 jobs and generate $57 million in state and local taxes.
Critics argue that the impact projections are inflated. For one, the study does not take into account the fact that people who would be hunting would no longer be engaged in other activities that involve spending. Hunting generates about $3 billion annually in state economic activity, the report estimated, including $1.7 billion from deer hunting. The expenses include lodging, airfare, guide fees, boats, weapons and other gear, licenses and land purchases or rentals.
Pennsylvania allows hunting for crows, coyotes and foxes on Sunday, but not for large game, such as deer and bears. The state's prohibition, which dates to 1873, is outdated. More than 40 states allow some Sunday hunting.
Hunters say trifling with the traditions under which they participate in their sport will speed its demise. On the other hand, hunting in Pennsylvania has been struggling with decreased interest for years and the sport could benefit from a move to make it more accessible to those casually interested.
Those who profit from serving hunters and those who enjoy the sport would benefit from adding a weekend day. Those who do not want to hunt on Sunday have an option -- they can rest on that day and allow the rest of the hunting enthusiasts enjoy the time in the woods

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