The Pennsylvania Game Commission is considering a proposal that would outlaw hunting for coyotes with the aid of hounds during the state’s fall big game seasons. Ushered in by numerous complaints from deer and bear hunters, the ban received a preliminary approval during a regular commission meeting earlier this month. It’ll be back before the board for a final vote in January.
Pennsylvania Game Commission spokesman Travis Lau tells Field & Stream that the proposed ban came about after big game hunters in the Keystone State expressed concerns about coyote hunters and hunting dogs disrupting their time the deer and bear woods. “The complaints that we’ve gotten about it have largely been from hunters who believe that some of the quote, unquote coyote hunting they’ve seen during the firearms deer and bear season has actually been deer and bear hunting with dogs,” Lau says.
According to a recap of the September meeting on the Pennsylvania Game Commission website, the practice of hunting coyotes with dogs has also resulted in intentional and unintentional pushing, driving, or killing of deer and bears in recent years.
“While it’s unlawful for any hunter to hunt deer or bear with dogs in Pennsylvania, and those doing so intentionally are in violation of the law, coyote dogs pushing deer or bears also pose potential problems for otherwise-lawful hunters in the same area,” the recap reads. “The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioner’s preliminary approval … would resolve those issues.”
Lau says that when deer and bear are unintentionally pushed by coyote hunting dogs, it can result in a legal dilemma for lawful deer and bear hunters. “Suddenly, they’re presented with a shot at a deer or a bear that is only in front of them because it was pushed by dogs,” he says. “That sort of interference poses a lot of questions about where an otherwise lawful hunter stands in the eyes of the law.”
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Coyote seasons will remain open year round even if the ban goes through, Lau says, but chasing the wild canines with the aid of dogs during daylight hours will be completely prohibited for the entirety of the deer and bear gun seasons, which run intermittently from November 25 to December 9. According to the Commission, the proposed ban would not have an impact on in-season, nighttime hunting with dogs for coyotes and other furbearers like raccoons and possums.
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