The federal government shutdown that has closed national parks and other federal lands might have implications for some Pennsylvania hunters.
The National Park Service has advised that hunting and other activities are prohibited in national parks while the shutdown is ongoing, and other federal lands also might be considered off limits.
All State game lands remain open as usual. Other state lands such as state forests and those portions of state parks normally open to hunting also remain open.
But since many in Pennsylvania take advantage of the recreational opportunities federal lands ordinarily have to offer, the Game Commission wants hunters and others to know their upcoming plans on federal property might be affected by the shutdown.
Hunters are urged to know the rules applying to the specific tracts they intend to hunt. If a federal property is closed because of the shutdown, hunters should find a different property they know they can access legally.
“For hunters who made plans that might change because of the shutdown, it could be a blessing in disguise,” said Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe. “We have in the Commonwealth more than 1.4 million acres of state game lands that hold good public-hunting opportunities and remain open, so fate could still work in the favor of any hunters who affected by the shutdown.”
The shutdown comes as hunting seasons for many game species are approaching their long-awaited opening days. Saturday marks the statewide opener for the archery deer season, and small game season kicks off a week later.
Federal lands that are closed won’t reopen until the shutdown ends, or an agreement otherwise is reached to open the lands to the public. And while the lands are closed, those violating the order to keep out could face federal charges.
Additionally, any game harvested on closed lands would be considered illegally taken and subject to seizure.
Those seeking alternate public-hunting opportunities can visit the Game Commission’s website, www.pgc.state.pa.us. The State Game Lands Mapping Center, which can be accessed through the site’s homepage, offers detailed maps of game lands and other tracts that are open to public hunting.