Letter sent to HF&G Committee
I am writing to express my opposition to SB 192, which is currently under consideration in the House Fish & Game Committee. My opposition is predicated on the apparent fiscal irresponsibility exhibited by the Game Commission (PGC) over the past approximately 15 years. I am a hunter as well as a semi-retired Certified Public Accountant and, as such, issues concerning the PGC's finances get my attention. Although, I'm often flabbergasted by the size of the PGC's financial needs and many quasi-frivolous things that they spend on.
I am also aware that there will be an audit of the PGC, and the limitations that such may have on users expectations. For example, the Commission's "Balance Sheet"( which is not an appropriate term) does not reference Fixed Assets such as Land, Buildings, Automotive equipment, etc. So, the audit report may reflect that the Commission's statements fairly reflect a method of accounting that is other than Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, but they may disclose nothing regarding matters of interest to hunters.
I am also aware of the so called Sunset Provision in SB 192. Such "temporary" matters, not unlike the PA Sales Tax, seldom sunset!
As I looked over the PGC annual reports and financial statements, as well as their history over the past several decades I have been very disappointed in their administration of our Hunting resources. Witness, if you will, the dramatic decline of hunting license sales and hunter participation over those past decade plus. The high that I remember was in the 90's at over 1,000,000. It is now someplace in the range of 6 to 7 hundred thousand. Their defense, predictably, refers simply to the national trend. But, there is a direct link to this reduction and the substantial decline of the deer herd, especially in the upstate regions. This reduction occurred at the direction of the PGC, purposely. In the early years of the reduction initiation, the reasons were cloaked in "Touchy, Feely" PC narrative, such as "Car/Deer Encounters"! I understand rather, that the reduction may be related to an attempt to appeal for certain United Nation's admirations, possibly along with other Natural Resource organizations in our State. Testimony to this effect has been provided to the PGC. Notwithstanding the reason, their policy has been a disaster for hunters, the upstate economy and for their revenues.
In addition to failing Pennsylvania deer hunters, their ordinary financial judgments require intense scrutiny. For example, they saw fit several years ago to computerize the license process, which strikes me as a whimsical attempted towards an appearance of modernizing. The first expensive attempt failed, so they simply proceeded to do it over again. They sought to fix and continue to pay for something that wasn't broken. Also, they expensively involved themselves in the heart flutter issue of bald eagles, near Hamburg, PA I think. And, I recently read that they will now embark on an eagle photo op, which is apt to be more expensive than a few rolls of film. Additionally, on the heels of closing several PGC operated pheasant farms, they seek to add another pall on this important activity! They seek to charge a separate additional fee for pheasant hunting. Of course this comes on the heels of their acquisition of a heartier breed of pheasant from other states. These are merely a few of the incidents that reflect what appears to be a tendency towards fiscal irresponsibility.
To say that the PGC has been hostile to Pennsylvania's hunting interests, in my opinion is an understatement. For example, they apparently entertain a culture that encouraged at least one of their biologists several years ago to be openly hostile to hunters. The biologist wrote several ululating articles of incredible diatribe that condemned hunters for their dared criticism of the PGC's herd reduction policies. Although she has been apparently been silenced, she may still be employed by the Commission.
Certainly, coupling a modest license fee increase with a removal of the Sunday hunting prohibition and a return of the deer herd to reasonable levels, at least in the upstate regions, should be vigorously pursued. The shooting sports generally, and hunting specifically, are incredibly important to our State. Reductions of these important groups tend to precede the reduction of a traditional conservative government in favor of a more abusive form. And, traditional government faces the significant challenge of cities, such as Philadelphia. Additionally, those that are hunting inclined and that are interested in passing our passion on to the next generation, need a lot of help to compete with the parental guidance and couch sports that have had a significant effect on our youth. Combine the affect on hunting with a lot of extra cost for adult mentors, and the plain boredom by the kids due to the absence of game, and you can see that the PGC continues to provide recipes for disaster.
Please help. Don't put the fox in charge of the chicken-coop. I urge that you and your colleagues vote negatively on this very wrong headed legislative undertaking. You can contact me anytime with any questions you might have on this matter. Also, you may share this letter with your colleagues.
Carlo S. Giuliano