Beginning April 1st, those who visit one of the State Game Lands public shooting ranges will need to obtain either a new $30 range use permit or be in possession of a current general hunting or furtaker license, according to Pennsylvania Game Commission officials.
"Over the past few years, the Game Commission has made large investments into its 29 State Game Land shooting ranges across this Commonwealth," said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. "These investments have taken the form of lead remediation, safety barrier reconstruction, shooting range redesign and other related projects. These investments came at a high cost, but kept many shooting ranges open and available to the public.
"Historically, hunter and furtaker license dollars have provided most, if not all, of the resources for keeping the agency's shooting ranges open to the public. Additionally, the open use of State Game Lands for shooting activities by those not licensed has resulted in some situations where ranges and State Game Lands have been used for illicit activities."
Exceptions to this permit requirement are those 15 years of age and younger properly accompanied by a licensed or permitted person 18 years of age or older, and each licensed hunter or range permit holder could have one guest.
Range permits are available to purchase through the agency's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us ), by clicking on the "Shooting Range Permit" icon in the center of the homepage, or clicking on "Public Shooting Ranges" in the "Quick Clicks" box in the right-hand column of the homepage. Unlike online hunting and furtaker license purchases, range use permits can be printed at the time of purchase. For the first year, range permits will be valid from the date of purchase until June 30, 2012. After that, permits will be valid on a license year basis (from July 1 through June 30).
Range permits also can be purchased at the agency's Harrisburg Headquarters and all six region offices, and require either a credit or debit card.
Range permits and hunting or furtaker licenses do not need to be displayed while using a State Game Lands public shooting range, but must be in possession, as well as a secondary form of identification, such as a driver's license.
On Feb. 1, the Board of Game Commissioners gave final approval to a regulatory change to implement the range permit requirement. In doing so, the agency is taking a step toward accomplishing the twin goals of having unlicensed persons contribute toward the cost of maintaining the ranges, and better quantifying and controlling the use of the shooting ranges.
The regulation also prohibits all other target shooting from taking place on State Game Lands, except at designated ranges. The regulatory change will not result in any increased cost or change in privileges for licensed hunters and furtakers.