Once again, the idea to merge the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the state’s Fish & Boat Commission has re-surfaced.
According to Trib Live, the idea to merge the two agencies is on the table, again. The idea was brought to fruition by State Representative Martin Causer of Potter County. He’s hoping to garner support to propose a large bill in the near future.
“There’s some pretty strong interest. I’ve heard from more legislators on this than in the past. And I’ve heard from sportsmen all across the state who seem more interested in this than in the past,” Causer told Trib Live.
According to Causer, a merger between the two agencies would be financially beneficial for the state, it’s wildlife and it’s fisheries. A study by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee suggested that a merger could save about $5 million a year.
Trib Live reports that a merger has been proposed three times in the last two decades, but failed each time. This time, the suggestion came as a surprise to insiders within each commission.
John Arway, Executive Director of the Fish & Boat Commission, and Travis Lau, spokesman for the Game Commission, both told Trib Live that their respective agencies are opposed to the merger.
“In the short term, and really over the course of perhaps 10 years, in our view, we don’t see significant cost savings in a merger,” Lau said.
Arway added, “We don’t want to be so big we lose touch with our customers. And we especially don’t want to lose touch with our trust species.”
In my opinion, Pennsylvania tends to be old-fashioned in both its hunting and fishing regulations. Likely, this issue stems from the very structure of the system. In Pennsylvania, wildlife, fisheries and natural resources are all managed by separate agencies. Wildlife is under the jurisdiction of the Game Commission, and fisheries under the jurisdiction of the Fish & Boat Commission.
With this proposal, that could change.
It’s hard to say what will happen, but it’s likely that the issue will get more publicity than it has yet. As always, there will be proponents and opponents. Only time will tell which side will win.