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Change coming to House Bill 1188?

House Bill 1188 would amend Pennsylvania’s Game and Wildlife Code to remove restrictions on the use of thermal and night vision equipment for hunting.

Currently, the game code bans the use of thermal, night vision and similar equipment as unlawful devices.

House Bill 1188 would remove this statutory restriction and allow the Pennsylvania Game Commission to regulate the use of such devices, specific to use on various species, seasons and bag limits.

State Representative Parke Wentling sponsored the bill.

“The use of this equipment would greatly benefit predator hunters here in the Commonwealth in helping to control populations of predator species, especially coyotes, whose population numbers continue to increase regardless of the fact that they can be hunted 24 hours a day, nearly 365 days a year,” Wentling said.

“Predator populations must be kept in check to help protect livestock and pets, and further help ensure the personal safety of our constituents.”

Sheri Baity worked with Wentling to develop the bill. Baity’s hunting time has been limited in recent years as she has spent countless hours traveling back and forth to Harrisburg and to various senator and representative officers to boost support of the bill.

She’s accustomed to travel! If you ever get a chance, check out one of her seminars, which detail coyote hunting and use of game calls. She’s develop her own line of calls, Crows Nest Calls, and packs seminars. She had hunted coyotes in PA, MT, NY, TX, AZ, WV and VA, using her trusty Winchester Model 70 .243, and has taken well over 100 coyotes in PA.

“I’ve spent two and a half years on this,” Baity said. “It passed through the House by a 95-5 vote, now after the summer break hopefully we can get it back on the table for September.”

Baity credited Wentling for his support.

“There are too many laws in existence that should be controlled by the PGC and getting somebody to write and introduce the legislation was a challenge – he busted his hump getting cosponsors,” she said. “All the surrounding states allow the use of similar equipment.”

“I travel all over to hunt coyotes and can use it everywhere,” she added. “Then I come home to my farm and I can’t use it.”

What do the terms mean? A thermal sight is a sight that combines a compact thermographic camera and an aiming reticle. A special lens in the thermal scope focused the infrared light emitted by the object (coyote or other predator) that is in view.

A night vision scope requires a light source to provide an image. Night vision optics come equipped with an infrared illuminator.

Baity uses NiteSite products. The company designs and manufactures night vision products for hunting, and also for zero light observation. NiteSite through research has developed a way to use infrared in a unique way, keeping the cost down on their products and also making them more user-friendly. No matter what the light conditions, you get crisp, ultra-clear vision, Baity said. You can keep using your day light scope; just add the night vision system.

“The predators are out there at night,” Baity said. “It should be up to the game commission to decide when night vision equipment can be used.”

South Williamsport hunter Sheri Baity has traveled countless miles in support of  legislation which would allow use of thermal and night vision scopes for hunting predators. LISA PRICE/TIMES NEWS