Johnstown City Council is re-evaluating a hunting ban it enacted for the Inclined Plane hillside in January.
The statute forbids all hunting and trapping on the land. It was put into place to “protect the safety of its citizens and minimize the damage to City of Johnstown owned property,” according to the ordinance.
Numerous hunters and sportsmen’s groups have objected. Council plans to discuss the issue at its regularly-scheduled meeting on Wednesday.
“We have received letters from some hunters and some concerned organizations that feel that it cannot be enforced, so we are researching it right now with our legal team,” said City Manager Kristen Denne.
The fine for a first-time offense is up to $250. Additional violations are punishable by a maximum $300 penalty and loss of hunting privileges for one year.
However, by state code, only the game commission has the right to revoke a license when an individual “is convicted of an offense under this title or has acted contrary to the intent of the registration or permit.”
“The city isn’t allowed to supersede state law like that,” said Robb Piper, Cambria County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs secretary.
“They can post the property if they feel the need to do that, but they have no right to do the game commission’s work.”
Seth Mesoras, a wildlife conservation officer with the game commission, concurred.
“Basically, the city cannot take your hunting license. It does
not matter what’s in the ordinance, but they have the ability to restrict hunting on their property and their property alone,” he said.
Council put the ban into place after Westmont resident Christine Quinn expressed concern about what she called a “huge liability” of hunting near the Inclined Plane and a popular hillside walking path.
The Johnstown ordinance was mostly aimed at bow- hunters since it was already illegal to discharge a firearm within the city.
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