The Board of Game Commissioners will hold its regular quarterly meeting this Monday and Tuesday at the Game Commission's Harrisburg headquarters.
These meetings have always been open to the public, of course, but beginning Monday, the Game Commission will webcast each day's proceedings live, making the meetings available to everyone with access to the Internet.
So for those folks who would like to see how our commissioners go about crafting all the wonderful hunting laws and regulations year after year but don't have the flexibility or desire to drive to Harrisburg for a day or two, some of you will now have the opportunity to watch the wheels of policymaking turn live on the Internet. And yes, I used the word "wonderful'' in the previous sentence with more than a tad of sarcasm.
The Game Commission will post an icon on its website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) on Monday to provide access to the webcasts. Monday's meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. with public comments to the commissioners. The length of this comment period will depend on the number of persons who wish to offer public testimony, which is limited to 5 minutes per individual. Following the public comments, the webcast will begin with staff reports presented to the commissioners by various Game Commission personnel.
On Tuesday, the webcast of the full board meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. when the Game Commission will take up its prepared agenda. A copy of this agenda is currently posted on the agency's website.
Unfortunately, unless you can be at your computer Monday or Tuesday mornings to watch the live webcast, that will be the only opportunity to view the meeting. When I contacted Game Commission press secretary Jerry Feaser last week, he told me the agency does not have the ability to host an archive for its board meetings on the website for future viewing.
This first online broadcast is likely to be a brief one, however, as the agenda for the board meeting is rather short. That is generally the case with the summer session, as most of the heavy lifting in terms of seasons and other rulemaking usually occurs at the January and April meetings.
One of the items on the agenda will be a proposal to require hunters who hunt from a manmade blind during any firearm season for deer, elk or bear to post 100 square inches of orange material within 15 feet of the blind. Of course, if there's one thing we don't need when it comes to hunting in Pennsylvania, it is more requirements for wearing orange.
Let me make it clear that my disdain for more orange regulations does not mean I don't care about hunting safety. Quite the contrary. The truth of the matter is our policymakers have continually fallen into the mindset that the more hunters that wear orange and the more often they wear it, the safer hunting will be. We long ago passed the point of diminishing returns with respect to wearing orange and overall hunting safety.
As a result, the requirements for wearing orange have been constantly tweaked and changed to the point that it all is quite confusing and inconsistent. And that's not just my assessment. During the last six months or so, I have talked to wildlife conservation officers at various meetings and events in different parts of the state. Those folks agreed that the current state of our orange regulations ranges from frustrating to an enforcement nightmare for officers in the field.
If anything, we need less orange requirements, not more. But instead of overhauling the whole mess, it looks like we will continue to keep being bombarded with more and more regulations fewer and fewer hunters want or understand.