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Get used to it … purple has new meaning

With the opening of the statewide archery season last week and the small game seasons for rabbits and ruffed grouse opening next weekend, hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts might encounter during their activities afield purple markings on trees and posts.

House Bill 1772 that was signed into law last November, and took effect back in January, now gives landowners then option of marking the boundary of their property with specific purple paint marks rather than “No Trespassing” signs. This new method of posting private properties is lawful throughout Pennsylvania except Allegheny and Philadelphia counties.

To be properly displayed, vertical purple lines must be at least eight inches long and one inch wide. The bottom of the mark must not be less than three feet or more than five feet from the ground.

These painted marks must be displayed on trees or posts not more than 100 feet apart. This new law is part of Title 18, the state Crimes Code, and is not a Pennsylvania Game Commission regulation.

Recent legislation has also given the Game Commission the authority to enforce trespassing violations. Before this new law, the Game Commission could only enforce game-law violations on private property, so landowners needed to contact state or local police for trespassing complaints regarding hunters.

The Game Commission has noted it “will enforce trespassing aggressively.” The new law also authorizes unarmed persons to go onto private property for the sole purpose of retrieving a hunting dog.

Failure to obey purple painted marks, no trespassing signs or verbal commands to keep out of private property is considered defiant trespass in Pennsylvania.

Defiant trespass is a third-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and $2,500 in fines. Persons apprehended for trespassing while hunting could also be subject to additional game-law violations and penalties. Given the enhanced laws regarding trespass, hunters and other persons who recreate on private properties should strive to know who owns the land they’re on and to seek permission from the landowner.

Doe license time

During the online meeting of the Board of Game Commissioners on Sept. 26, Pennsylvania Game Commission staff delivered a report on the application process for antlerless deer licenses. This report came from a request by Commissioner Charles Fox at the July board meeting to examine the possibility of issuing antlerless deer licenses directly through the Game Commission.

Because state law currently requires that antlerless deer licenses be issued by county treasurers, the General Assembly would need to pass legislation amending Title 34 to change the process of issuing antlerless deer licenses.

In their report, Game Commission staff verified that the automated license system already in place in Pennsylvania for many years now could issue antlerless deer licenses either on a first-come, first-serve basis, or through lottery.

They also recognized the first-come, first-serve option as their preference and presented procedures for implementing that process. The Game Commission will need to work with the General Assembly to pass legislation that would allow the upgrade to the modern electronic system from the outdated mail-in process to a county treasurer’s office.

Hopefully, the commissioners and Game Commission staff will be able to prevail upon our legislators finally to change the requirement that county treasurers issue doe licenses. That system might have made a bit of sense back in the 1950s when doe license allocations were doled out on a county-by-county basis.

Back then, doe license allocations were much less than nowadays, and most counties typically received many more applications than licenses available. Complaints regularly came from some counties that “you had to know someone” to get a doe license as those in the treasurer’s office took care of their friends and political allies before issuing licenses to the general public.

In 2003, the Game Commission divided the state into 21 specific Wildlife Management Units. County-by county doe license allocations were eliminated with the allocations being based, as they are now, on the individual WMUs.

That change alone was more than enough reason to scrap the county treasurer application process, but it didn’t. Even when we transferred to the electronic automated license system a few years later, the bureaucrats and the politicians couldn’t get together to streamline the antlerless deer license application process. Let’s hope they finally do it soon. It’s long past the time for it.

Fall fishing

After the constant rains throughout 2018 and the first half of 2019 that keep most of the streams and rivers in our region at flood stage or nearly so, it’s hard to believe we are almost begging for some rain.

But that is indeed the case, especially you if like to fish during the fall as I do. Most of our freestone trout streams are dreadfully low and have been for weeks now.

I don’t mind a challenge, but the current conditions simply aren’t much fun. Some of the area limestone streams are in a bit better shape, so I hope to get a trip or to one of them in the next week or two. Bass fishing, either for river smallmouths or lake-dwelling largemouths, should be another option for those of us who want to get in some time on the water while the weather is still pleasant this autumn.

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