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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 16-899




[ 58 PA. CODE CH. 131 ]

Preliminary Provisions; Police Powers by Wildlife Conservation Officers

[46 Pa.B. 2664]
[Saturday, May 28, 2016]

 To effectively manage the wildlife resources of this Commonwealth, the Game Commission (Commission), at its April 5, 2016, meeting, amended § 131.6 (relating to administration of police powers by wildlife conservation officers) to redirect the extent and manner in which it authorizes wildlife conservation officers to engage in the administration of police powers.

 The final-form rulemaking will not have an adverse impact on the wildlife resources of this Commonwealth.

 The authority for the final-form rulemaking is 34 Pa.C.S. (relating to Game and Wildlife Code) (code).

 Notice of proposed rulemaking was published at 46 Pa.B. 1426 (March 19, 2016).

1. Purpose and Authority

 The exercise of general police powers by wildlife conservation officers has proven a unique challenge for the Commission over the past few years. On one hand the Commission asserts its preference to focus the primary responsibilities of wildlife conservation officers to be the enforcement of the code and related environmental concerns. On the other hand the Commission is challenged by the public's expectation that it remain adaptive and capable to address the spectrum of circumstances that wildlife conservation officers face on a daily basis. Increasingly, the Commission is identifying significant overlap and interconnectivity between its investigations into wildlife, habitat and other environmental crime, and other types of general crime. The Commission's policy to attempt to sever and transfer all general crime matters to other State or local law enforcement agencies has largely proven unsuccessful. Not only does this process often create significant procedural complications for both organizations, but, more importantly, these other agencies have consistently rejected their adoption of cases that they did not initiate. In an effort to reduce legal challenges, reduce potential civil liability and provide recognition of the importance of the relevant competing interests on this issue, the Commission amends § 131.6 to redirect the extent and manner in which it authorizes wildlife conservation officers to engage in the administration of police powers.

 Section 901(a)(17) of the code (relating to powers and duties of enforcement officers) states in relevant part ''[a]ll powers as provided for in this paragraph will be limited by such administrative procedure as the director, with the approval of the commission, shall prescribe.'' Section 322(c)(12) of the code (relating to powers and duties of commission) specifically empowers the Commission to ''[t]ake any necessary action to accomplish and assure the purposes of this title.'' The amendments to § 131.6 are adopted under this authority.

2. Regulatory Requirements

 The final-form rulemaking amends § 131.6 to redirect the extent and manner in which the Commission authorizes salaried wildlife conservation officers to engage in the administration of police powers.

3. Persons Affected

 Persons within the jurisdictional limits of this Commonwealth may be affected by the final-form rulemaking.

4. Comment and Response Summary

 There were no official comments received regarding the final-form rulemaking.

5. Cost and Paperwork Requirements

 The final-form rulemaking should not result in additional cost or paperwork.

6. Effective Date

 The final-form rulemaking will be effective upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and will remain in effect until changed by the Commission.

7. Contact Person

 For further information regarding the final-form rulemaking, contact Thomas P. Grohol, Director, Bureau of Wildlife Protection, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797, (717) 783-6526.


 The Commission finds that:

 (1) Public notice of intention to adopt the administrative amendments adopted by this order has been given under sections 201 and 202 of the act of July 31, 1968 (P.L 769, No. 240) (45 P.S. §§ 1201 and 1202) and the regulations thereunder, 1 Pa. Code §§ 7.1 and 7.2.

 (2) The adoption of the amendments of the Commission in the manner provided in this order is necessary and appropriate for the administration and enforcement of the authorizing statute.


 The Commission, acting under the authorizing statute, orders that:

 (a) The regulations of the Commission, 58 Pa. Code Chapter 131, are amended by amending § 131.6 to read as set forth in Annex A.

 (b) The Executive Director of the Commission shall certify this order and Annex A and deposit them with the Legislative Reference Bureau as required by law.

 (c) This order shall become effective upon final-form publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

Executive Director

Fiscal Note: Fiscal Note 48-391 remains valid for the final adoption of the subject regulation.

Annex A




§ 131.6. Administration of police powers by wildlife conservation officers.

 (a) General.

 (1) Section 901(a)(17) of the act (relating to powers and duties of enforcement officers) authorizes wildlife conservation officers, when acting within the scope of their employment, to pursue, apprehend or arrest any individual suspected of violating any provision of 18 Pa.C.S. (relating to Crimes Code) or any other offense classified as a misdemeanor or felony and, in addition, to serve and execute warrants and subpoenas for these offenses.

 (2) For the purposes of enforcement of the authority granted by section 901(a)(17) of the act, ''when acting within the scope of their employment'' means that period of time that a wildlife conservation officer is currently engaged in any activity the officer is employed to perform at the time and places the officer is authorized to perform the activity.

 (b) Limitation. A wildlife conservation officer will arrest or take other appropriate enforcement action pursuant to the authority vested by section 901(a)(17) of the act only in one or more of the following circumstances:

 (1) The offense occurs in the officer's presence.

 (2) The offense occurs on lands or waters owned, leased or otherwise controlled by the Commission.

 (3) The offense arises out of Commission operations.

 (4) Another law enforcement agency has reasonably requested the assistance.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 16-899. Filed for public inspection May 27, 2016, 9:00 a.m.]

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