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RULES AND REGULATIONS

GAME COMMISSION

[ 58 PA. CODE CH. 141 ]

Hunting and Trapping; General; Small Game; Big Game

[47 Pa.B. 7048]
[Saturday, November 18, 2017]

 To effectively manage the wildlife resources of this Commonwealth, the Game Commission (Commission), at its September 26, 2017, meeting, amended §§ 141.1, 141.22, 141.43 and 141.67 to extend the use of air guns and semiautomatic rifles for small game and furbearers to special regulation areas, delete the limiting term ''centerfire'' from the manually operated or semiautomatic rifle authorization that was erroneously added at 47 Pa.B. 2710 (May 13, 2017), add the term ''rimfire'' to limit the type of .22 caliber or less firearms that may be used to hunt small game, and relocate and extend the use of air guns and semiautomatic rimfire rifles .22 caliber or less for dispatching legally trapped furbearers caught in a trap during the regular or special firearms deer seasons.

 This final-form rulemaking will not have an adverse impact on the wildlife resources of this Commonwealth.

 The authority for this final-form rulemaking is 34 Pa.C.S. (relating to Game and Wildlife Code) (code).

 Notice of proposed rulemaking was published at 47 Pa.B. 4711 (August 12, 2017).

1. Purpose and Authority

 In relevant part, the act of November 21, 2016 (P.L. 1317, No. 168) (Act 168) made two significant changes to section 2308 of the code (relating to unlawful devices and methods). Act 168 eliminated the Commonwealth's historic prohibitions against the use of air guns and semiautomatic rifles for hunting. It is important to note that Act 168 did not authorize the use of semiautomatic handguns or eliminate the two-shell in the shotgun magazine restriction for small game, furbearers, and the like. On March 28, 2017, in an effort to implement Act 168 and expand hunting opportunities in this Commonwealth, the Commission amended §§ 131.2, 141.22, 141.43—141.45, 141.47 and 141.67 to authorize the use of air guns and semiautomatic rifles for small game and furbearers. These amendments became effective on May 13, 2017. See 47 Pa.B. 2710.

 The Commission has completed a few housekeeping amendments to address concerns not addressed in the final-form rulemaking published at 47 Pa.B. 2710. First, the Commission amends § 141.1 (relating to special regulations areas) to extend the use of air guns and semiautomatic rifles for small game and furbearers to special regulation areas. While this extension nearly matches the original Statewide proposal, it is important to note the existing limitation to rimfire ammunition in this section will be carried forward in the special regulations areas in this final-form rulemaking. The Commission also amends § 141.22 (relating to small game seasons) to: 1) delete the limiting term ''centerfire'' from the manually operated or semiautomatic rifle authorization that was erroneously added at 47 Pa.B. 2710; and 2) add ''rimfire'' to limit the type of .22 caliber or less firearms that may be used to hunt small game. These corrections will return the text to its intended structure and provide consistency in the regulations addressing these requirements. Lastly, the Commission amends §§ 141.43 and 141.67 (relating to deer seasons; and furbearer seasons) to relocate and extend the use of air guns and semiautomatic rimfire rifles .22 caliber or less for dispatching legally trapped furbearers caught in a trap during the regular or special firearms deer seasons.

 Section 2102(d) of the code (relating to regulations) authorizes the Commission to ''promulgate regulations stipulating the size and type of traps, the type of firearms and ammunition and other devices which may be used, the manner in which and the location where the devices may be used, the species the devices may be used for and the season when the devices may be used.'' The amendments to §§ 141.1, 141.22, 141.43 and 141.67 are adopted under this authority.

2. Regulatory Requirements

 This final-form rulemaking amends §§ 141.1, 141.22, 141.43 and 141.67 to extend the use of air guns and semiautomatic rifles for small game and furbearers to special regulation areas, delete the limiting term ''centerfire'' from the manually operated or semiautomatic rifle authorization that was erroneously added at 47 Pa.B. 2710, add ''rimfire'' to limit the type of .22 caliber or less firearms that may be used to hunt small game, and relocate and extend the use of air guns and semiautomatic rimfire rifles .22 caliber or less for dispatching legally trapped furbearers caught in a trap during the regular or special firearms deer seasons.

3. Persons Affected

 Persons wishing to hunt or take small game or furbearers with air guns, semiautomatic firearms or other firearms in this Commonwealth will be affected by this final-form rulemaking.

4. Comment and Response Summary

 There were no official comments received regarding this final-form rulemaking.

5. Cost and Paperwork Requirements

 This final-form rulemaking should not result in additional cost or paperwork.

6. Effective Date

 This final-form rulemaking will be effective upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and will remain in effect until changed by the Commission.

7. Contact Person

 For further information regarding this final-form rulemaking, contact Thomas P. Grohol, Director, Bureau of Wildlife Protection, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797, (717) 783-6526.

Findings

 The Commission finds that:

 (1) Public notice of intention to adopt the administrative amendments adopted by this order has been given under sections 201 and 202 of the act of July 31, 1968 (P.L. 769, No. 240) (45 P.S. §§ 1201 and 1202) and the regulations thereunder, 1 Pa. Code §§ 7.1 and 7.2.

 (2) The adoption of the amendments of the Commission in the manner provided in this order is necessary and appropriate for the administration and enforcement of the authorizing statute.

Order

 The Commission, acting under the authorizing statute, orders that:

 (a) The regulations of the Commission, 58 Pa. Code Chapter 141, are amended by amending §§ 141.1, 141.22, 141.43 and 141.67 to read as set forth in Annex A, with ellipses referring to the existing text of the regulations.

 (b) The Executive Director of the Commission shall certify this order and Annex A and deposit them with the Legislative Reference Bureau as required by law.

 (c) This order shall become effective upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

BRYAN J. BURHANS, 
Executive Director

Fiscal Note: Fiscal Note 48-420 remains valid for the final adoption of the subject regulations.

Annex A

TITLE 58. RECREATION

PART III. GAME COMMISSION

CHAPTER 141. HUNTING AND TRAPPING

Subchapter A. GENERAL

§ 141.1. Special regulations areas.

 (a) Name. The areas shall be known and referred to as special regulations areas.

 (b) Descriptions.

 (1) Southwest area. Includes the County of Allegheny.

 (2) Southeast area. Includes the Counties of Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Delaware and Philadelphia and also includes Tyler and Ridley Creek State Parks and other publicly-owned lands therein.

 (c) Prohibitions.

 (1) Except as provided in subsection (d), it is unlawful to take, kill or attempt to take or kill wildlife through the use of a firearm of any description which discharges single-projectile ammunition, or, while hunting for wild birds or wild animals, to possess single-projectile ammunition, except for employees of political subdivisions and other persons who have a valid deer control permit issued under the authority of Chapter 29 of the act (relating to special licenses and permits).

 (2) It is unlawful to use buckshot in Allegheny or Philadelphia Counties without specific authorization of the Director.

 (3) It is unlawful to, except for normal or accepted farming, habitat management practices, oil and gas drilling, mining, forest management activities, or other legitimate commercial or industrial practices, intentionally lay or place food, fruit, hay, grain, chemical, salt or other minerals anywhere in the southeast special regulations area for the purpose of feeding white-tailed deer, or to intentionally lay or place food, fruit, hay, grain, chemical, salt or other minerals that may cause white-tailed deer to congregate or habituate an area. If otherwise lawful feeding is attracting white-tailed deer, the Commission may provide written notice prohibiting this activity.

 (d) Permitted acts. It is lawful to:

 (1) Except in Philadelphia County, Ridley Creek State Park, Delaware County and Tyler State Park, Bucks County, hunt and kill deer and bear through the use of a muzzleloading long gun or a shotgun, at least .410 gauge (rifled barrels permitted), including semiautomatics which, upon discharge, propel a single projectile.

 (2) Take deer with a shotgun 20 gauge or larger—including semiautomatic—using buckshot in the southeast area only.

 (3) Take small game, furbearing animals, crows or wildlife with the following devices:

 (i) A manually operated or semiautomatic rimfire rifle or manually operated rimfire handgun .22 caliber or less.

 (ii) A manually operated or semiautomatic air rifle or manually operated air handgun between .177 and .22 caliber, inclusive, that propels single-projectile pellet or bullet ammunition. BB ammunition is not authorized.

 (4) Kill an animal legally caught in a trap with the following devices:

 (i) A manually operated or semiautomatic rimfire rifle or manually operated rimfire handgun .22 caliber or less.

 (ii) A manually operated or semiautomatic air rifle or manually operated air handgun between .177 and .22 caliber, inclusive, that propels single-projectile pellet or bullet ammunition. BB ammunition is not authorized.

 (5) Harvest more than one deer at a time when multiple harvests of deer per day are authorized without first lawfully tagging previous harvests, provided all deer harvested are lawfully tagged immediately thereafter.

 (6) Hunt or take deer during any deer season through the use of or by taking advantage of bait on private property currently operating under a valid deer control permit where approval for limited baiting activities has previously been obtained under § 147.552 (relating to application). This limited authorization is valid only to the extent that persons comply with the standards and conditions in § 147.556 (relating to lawful devices and methods).

 (7) Hunt or take deer in the southeast special regulations area during regular open hunting seasons for white-tailed deer through the use of or by taking advantage of bait on private, township or municipal property only under a deer attractant permit issued under Chapter 147, Subchapter R (relating to deer control).

Subchapter B. SMALL GAME

§ 141.22. Small game seasons.

 (a) Permitted devices. It is lawful to hunt small game, except woodchucks, during any small game season with the following devices:

 (1) A manually operated or semiautomatic rimfire rifle or manually operated rimfire handgun. The firearm must be .22 caliber or less, that propels single-projectile ammunition.

 (2) A manually operated or semiautomatic centerfire shotgun or muzzleloading shotgun. The firearm must be 10 gauge or less, that propels multiple-projectile shotgun ammunition not larger than # 4 lead, # 2 steel, or # 4 of any other composition or alloy of nontoxic shot approved by the Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service or an authorized representative under 50 CFR 20.134 (relating to approval of nontoxic shot types and shot coatings). A centerfire shotgun's magazine capacity may not exceed two rounds. The shotgun's total aggregate ammunition capacity may not exceed three rounds.

 (3) A muzzleloading rifle or handgun. The firearm must be .40 caliber or less, that propels single-projectile ammunition.

 (4) A bow and arrow.

 (5) A crossbow and bolt.

 (6) A raptor. The raptor shall be lawfully possessed under a falconry permit under section 2925 of the act (relating to falconry permits).

 (7) A manually operated or semiautomatic air rifle or manually operated air handgun between .177 and .22 caliber, inclusive, that propels single-projectile pellet or bullet ammunition. BB ammunition is not authorized.

 (b) Prohibitions. While hunting small game during any small game season, except woodchucks, it is unlawful to:

 (1) Use or possess single-projectile ammunition larger than .22 caliber or multiple-projectile shotgun ammunition larger than # 4 lead, # 2 steel, or # 4 of any other composition or alloy of nontoxic shot approved by the Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service or an authorized representative under 50 CFR 20.134, except as authorized under section 2525 of the act (relating to possession of firearm for protection of self or others).

 (2) Possess a firearm while hunting with a raptor, except as authorized under section 2525 of the act.

 (3) Discharge a firearm within 150 yards of a Commission vehicle releasing pheasants.

 (4) Use or possess a device or ammunition not provided for in the act or in this section, except as authorized under section 2525 of the act.

 (5) Hunt in a party of more than six persons. This does not apply to waterfowl or dove hunters when hunting from a blind or other stationary position.

 (c) Woodchuck (Groundhog) season.

 (1) Permitted devices. It is lawful to hunt woodchucks during woodchuck season with the following devices:

 (i) A manually operated or semiautomatic rifle or manually operated handgun that propels single-projectile ammunition.

 (ii) A manually operated or semiautomatic centerfire shotgun or muzzleloading shotgun. The firearm must be 10 gauge or less that propels multiple-projectile shotgun ammunition not larger than # 4 lead, # 2 steel, or # 4 of any other composition or alloy of nontoxic shot approved by the Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service or an authorized representative under 50 CFR 20.134. A centerfire shotgun's magazine capacity may not exceed two rounds. The shotgun's total aggregate ammunition capacity may not exceed three rounds.

 (iii) A muzzleloading rifle or handgun that propels single-projectile ammunition.

 (iv) A bow and arrow.

 (v) A crossbow and bolt.

 (vi) A raptor. The raptor shall be lawfully possessed under a falconry permit under section 2925 of the act.

 (vii) A manually operated or semiautomatic air rifle or manually operated air handgun .22 caliber or larger that propels single-projectile pellet or bullet ammunition. BB ammunition is not authorized.

 (2) Prohibitions. While hunting woodchucks during woodchuck season, it is unlawful to:

 (i) Use or possess multiple-projectile shotgun ammunition larger than # 4 lead, # 2 steel, or # 4 of any other composition or alloy of nontoxic shot approved by the Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service or an authorized representative under 50 CFR 20.134, except as authorized under section 2525 of the act.

 (ii) Possess a firearm while hunting with a raptor, except as authorized under section 2525 of the act.

 (iii) Use or possess a device or ammunition not provided for in the act or in this section, except as authorized under section 2525 of the act.

Subchapter C. BIG GAME

§ 141.43. Deer seasons.

*  *  *  *  *

 (e) Cooperating while hunting during any deer season. Holders of any of the appropriate licenses or stamps may cooperate while hunting antlered or antlerless deer if pertinent provisions of the act and this section are met.

Subchapter D. FURBEARERS

§ 141.67. Furbearer seasons.

 (a) Permitted devices. It is lawful to hunt or take furbearers during any furtaking season with the following devices:

 (1) A manually operated or semiautomatic rifle or manually operated handgun that propels single-projectile ammunition.

 (2) A manually operated or semiautomatic, centerfire shotgun or muzzleloading shotgun. The firearm must be 10 gauge or less, that propels single-projectile ammunition or multiple-projectile shotgun ammunition not larger than # 4 buckshot. The centerfire shotgun's magazine capacity may not exceed two rounds. The shotgun's total aggregate ammunition capacity may not exceed three rounds.

 (3) A muzzleloading rifle or handgun that propels single-projectile ammunition.

 (4) A bow and arrow.

 (5) A crossbow and bolt.

 (6) A manually operated or semiautomatic air rifle or manually operated air handgun .22 caliber or larger that propels single-projectile pellet or bullet ammunition. BB ammunition is not authorized.

 (b) Prohibitions. While hunting furbearers during any furbearer hunting or trapping season, it is unlawful to:

 (1) Use or possess multiple-projectile shotgun ammunition larger than # 4 buckshot, except as authorized under section 2525 of the act (relating to possession of firearm for protection of self or others).

 (2) Use or possess a device or ammunition not provided for in the act or in this section, except as authorized under section 2525 of the act.

 (3) Use any firearm, other than authorized in this paragraph, to dispatch legally trapped furbearers during the overlap with the regular or special firearms deer seasons:

 (i) A manually operated or semiautomatic rimfire rifle or manually operated rimfire handgun .22 caliber or less.

 (ii) A manually operated or semiautomatic air rifle or manually operated air handgun between .177 and .22 caliber, inclusive, that propels single-projectile pellet or bullet ammunition. BB ammunition is not authorized.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 17-1880. Filed for public inspection November 17, 2017, 9:00 a.m.]



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