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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 23-1511



[58 PA. CODE CH. 141]

Hunting and Trapping; General

[53 Pa.B. 6869]
[Saturday, November 4, 2023]

 To effectively manage the wildlife resources of this Commonwealth, the Game Commission (Commission) proposed at its September 16, 2023, meeting to amend § 141.18 (relating to permitted devices) to authorize electronic devices used to disturb water with the purpose of preventing ice formation.

 This proposed rulemaking will not have an adverse impact on the wildlife resources of this Commonwealth.

 The authority for this proposed rulemaking is 34 Pa.C.S. (relating to Game and Wildlife Code) (code).

 This proposed rulemaking was made public at the September 16, 2023, meeting of the Commission. Comments can be sent until January 24, 2024, to the Director, Information and Education, Game Commission, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797.

1. Purpose and Authority

 The Commission recently conducted a formal review of the use of electronic devices intended to maintain open water, frequently referred to as ''ice-eaters.'' Ice-eaters can come in a variety of forms, such as fountains, propellers and bubblers, all with the intention of disturbing water to prevent ice formation or melt ice that has already formed. Waterfowl hunters use these devices in other jurisdictions where their use is lawful to maintain open water and entice waterfowl to remain in the area for hunting opportunities. When considering electronic devices, the Commission generally reviews to what degree use of a given device might negatively impact principles of resource conservation, equal opportunity, fair chase or public safety. The Commission's review of these devices determined that their use would have insignificant negative impacts to the previously mentioned principles. Therefore, the Commission is proposing to amend § 141.18 to authorize electronic devices used to disturb water with the purpose of preventing ice formation.

 Section 2102(a) of the code (relating to regulations) provides that ''[t]he commission shall promulgate such regulations as it deems necessary and appropriate concerning game or wildlife and hunting or furtaking in this Commonwealth, including regulations relating to the protection, preservation and management of game or wildlife and game or wildlife habitat, permitting or prohibiting hunting or furtaking, the ways, manner, methods and means of hunting or furtaking, and the health and safety of persons who hunt or take wildlife or may be in the vicinity of persons who hunt or take game or wildlife in this Commonwealth.'' The amendments to § 141.18 are proposed under this authority.

2. Regulatory Requirements

 This proposed rulemaking will amend § 141.18 to authorize electronic devices used to disturb water with the purpose of preventing ice formation.

3. Persons Affected

 Persons concerned with hunting where electronic devices used to disturb water for the purpose of preventing ice formation within this Commonwealth will be affected by this proposed rulemaking.

4. Cost and Paperwork Requirements

 This proposed rulemaking should not result in any additional cost or paperwork.

5. Effective Date

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

6. Contact Person

 For further information about this proposed rulemaking, contact Jason L. DeCoskey, Director, Bureau of Wildlife Protection, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797, (717) 783-6526.

Executive Director

Fiscal Note: 48-502. No fiscal impact; recommends adoption.

Annex A




Subchapter A. GENERAL

§ 141.18. Permitted devices.

 Notwithstanding the prohibitions in § 141.6 (relating to illegal devices), the following devices may be used to hunt or take wildlife:

 (1) Firearms that use an electronic impulse to initiate discharge of ammunition. This provision is not intended to authorize use of these devices when these firearms are otherwise prohibited devices for the applicable hunting or trapping season.

*  *  *  *  *

 (11) Electronic hand-held and firearm-mounted night-vision and infrared optics used solely for furbearer hunting.

(12) Electronic devices used to disturb water for the purpose of preventing ice formation.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 23-1511. Filed for public inspection November 3, 2023, 9:00 a.m.]

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