Changes to fluorescent orange delayed, revised again, but still coming

Posted on: September 26, 2018 | Bob Frye | Comments

Fluorescent orange is meant to improve safety in the hunting woods.

regulatiosn regarding how much fluorescent orange hunter have to wear, and when, in Pennsylvania are likely to change.
Photo: PA Game Commission

It’s been two years already, so what’s three more months?

Pennsylvania Game Commissioners have by their own admission been talking – and talking and talking and talking – about how and if they should modify the rules hunters have to follow regarding the wearing of fluorescent orange. They are the “the most complex” in the nation currently.

Commissioners want to simplify things.

They considered changing the rules at their meeting held earlier this week in Somerset County. But they didn’t.

That doesn’t mean they won’t.

In fact, commissioners say now they will roll out new orange rules at their next meeting, in January.

That proposal — a change from what was talked about even last month — will require hunters to wear 250 square inches of orange on the head, back and chest combined during the rifle bear, deer and elk seasons and all small game seasons. Woodhuck hunters will need to wear an orange hat.

And that’s it.

Hunters in all other seasons can wear orange or not as they see fit.

The commission will “highly recommend” that they do, said board president Tim Layton of Somerset County. But it won’t require it.

Archers – who can go without orange at some times, but must wear it at others when their season overlaps with early muzzleloader and small game seasons – will be big beneficiaries. So, too, will fall turkey hunters.

But the new rules, if adopted, should make it easier for hunters anywhere in the state, at any time of year, to understand what they need to wear and when, Layton said.

As for why the delay in approval? That’s a matter of timing.

The hunting license year runs July 1 to June 30.

If commissioners preliminary approved changes in the fluorescent orange rules in September, and gave them final approval at their next meeting in January, they would go into effect mid-license year.

Commissioners didn’t want that.

“We want to make it a clean start next year so that all of our publications that go out have the new regulations in them and it makes it easy,” Layton said.

Even then, approval of the new rules likely won’t be unanimous. Commissioner Jim Daley if Butler County said he’s probably going to vote against the changes, citing safety concerns.

But time will tell, he admitted.

“I think the biggest thing, regardless of what we change, is we need to monitor it and see if there’s an uptick (in accidents) or not,” Daley said.

Layton agreed with the need for follow-up.

“I think so. We need to look at it after one year, three years, five years,” he said.

Right now, though, he said, fishing and boating are more dangerous than hunting in Pennsylvania.

Fifteen people died in boating accidents in Pennsylvania in 2017, according to the Fish and Boat Commission. The most recent 10-year average is 11.9 fatalities a year.

By comparison, there was an average of 1.7 hunting fatalities per year in Pennsylvania between 2008 and 2017. There were none in 2012, 2016 or 2017, the only three times that’s been true since 1915.

Hunters – by being responsible, identifying their target and what’s beyond and more — will determine how the numbers look going forward, regardless of the color of their clothing, Layton said.

 

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Bob Frye is the everybodyadventures.com editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or bfrye@535mediallc.com. See other stories, blogs, videos and more at everybodyadventures.com.

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Bob Frye is a storyteller with a passion for all things outdoors. He hunts, he fishes, he hikes, he camps, he paddles, backpacks and snowshoes depending on the season. If he’s not an expert at anything, it’s because he’s passionate to try a little bit of everything.