The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 13, 2012

Warnings issued following 'road hunting' incident in Union County

By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item

— MIFFLINBURG — A wildlife conservation officer reprimanded a passenger who fired a shot at a black bear after he and the driver had stopped their vehicle on Route 192 in Union County.

“Road hunting” in Pennsylvania, Dirk Remensnyder said, is illegal.

The bear escaped unharmed and the “hunters” without charges. They received only a tongue-lashing from Remensnyder, who did not disclose their identities.

No charges were filed.

The incident occurred east of the intersection of Buffalo and Forest Hill roads in Mifflinburg. The driver said his passenger told him to pull over and stop as he’d seen a bear.

A nearby resident, who heard the shot and drove down the road to see what was happening, called Remensnyder’s office. The resident saw the parked vehicle and recorded the license plate number, Remensnyder said, which led him to the vehicle’s driver.

The incident occurred during rifle bear season, which ran from Nov. 17-22.

In Pennsylvania, it’s illegal to use a motorized vehicle to find and hunt game. Also, a person cannot get out of a vehicle and fire a gun within 25 yards of the travel portion of a highway, Remensnyder said. It’s also illegal to carry a loaded gun in a vehicle.

In these snap-judgment cases, “People get excited and try to load a gun before exiting the vehicle,” accidently shooting themselves, Remensnyder said.

“The primary thing we want in law enforcement is voluntary compliance,” Remensnyder said. “When I look at a case, I try to look at all factors involved and the demeanor of the individuals.

“A lot of times, people do stuff on a split-second decision,” he said, “and didn’t have time to evaluate the consequences of their actions.”

Game wardens can issue citations or written or oral warnings after taking into account the event’s circumstances.

Hunting in Pennsylvania “is going on most of the time,” Remensnyder said, from goose and dove season in early September to small game and trapping in mid to late February. There have been no hunting accidents reported in Union County this season, he said.