Semiautomatic Rifles to Hunt Predators?

On May 1, 2014, Representative Gregory Lucas (R-Crawford and Erie Counties) introduced House Bill no. 2230, which now has been referred to the Committee on Game and Fisheries. This Bill, if approved, would amend Section 2308(b) of Title 34 [Game and Wildlife Code] to allow the use of “a semiautomatic rifle, .223 caliber or less with a cartridge capacity of not more than six, for the taking of a coyote, fox or woodchuck.”

This is a major turn of events, since for may years Pennsylvanian predator hunters have asked for this type of change in the regulations. These calls for a change were mainly based in the belief that the coyote population is getting too large for our area and is posing a serious nuisance on the local wildlife populations. These beliefs are now turning into cold hard truths. Travis Lau, the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s press secretary, estimated there were only 15,000 to 20,000 coyotes prowling our woods a decade ago. However, this number has exploded in recent years. According to survey results, Pennsylvania hunters dispatched around 40,000 coyotes last year. As per the Pennsylvania Game Commission website:

“[A]bout 70 percent of a coyote population has to be removed annually in order to cause a population decline. Even then, coyotes – like many other species – have demonstrated an ability to offset population declines by increasing their litter size. It’s spurred by a built-in biological mechanism that responds to population deficits.”

With the ever-increasing popularity of semiautomatic rifles, more hunters have voiced their opinions to their legislators, in regards to using these firearms for hunting. These rifles can provide hunters a necessary advantage during coyote hunts. Our hunters need these types of advantages in the ongoing struggle to keep our Commonwealth’s coyote population in check. While this may not cause an appreciable decline in the population, it can only help combat the growing problem our Commonwealth faces.

I applaud Representative Gregory Lucas and the sixteen other Representatives who co-sponsored this bill, and I personally believe this law should be expanded to other nuisance animals. I recommend all Pennsylvania sportsmen and sportswomen support this Bill.

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