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Department of the Auditor General Finance Building
613 North Street, Room 229
Harrisburg, PA 17120-0018
LEWISBURG - The state official conducting an audit of the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) heard from hunters on Thursday.
Eugene DePasquale, auditor general, fielded statements in the midst of an audit of the PGC. Legislators criticized the agency earlier this year, implying mismanagement. The Legislature has debated raising game commission fees but will not raise them before seeing an audit.
The audit started about a month ago, but DePasquale offered no date for completion. Thoroughness, he said, would ensure good information is gleaned.
"We want to hear feedback from people that are involved in the industry," DePasquale said. "So we get good, important information, not just dealing with the Harrisburg crowd, but hearing Pennsylvania voices from all over the state."
DePasquale noted hunters discussed fund management, the effect of chronic wasting disease and other topics. He said more hunters live in Pennsylvania than in any other state.
Higher fees OK
John P. Kline, director of government affairs for the Pennsylvania Association of Sportsman's Clubs, was among about a dozen hunters or representatives on hand at Lewisburg Borough Council chambers.
"(DePasquale) is hearing from real hunters, our opinions, and I think he got that today," Kline said. "Sportsmen generally ... support a license fee increase for the Pennsylvania Game Commission."
He noted neither the game commission nor the Fish and Boat Commission receive general fund revenue. The agencies are instead funded by license sales, federal excise tax, royalties on timber sales and other sources.
"We are calling for the Legislature to allow the game commission to increase fees for us to pay so they can better serve (their) constituents," Kline said. "Which isn't just hunters, it's 12 million Pennsylvanians."
Kline explained federal excise taxes on guns and ammunition are held by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, then distributed back to states based on license sales and other criteria. He called it a great conservation and wildlife management resource.
Donald J. Williams, a disabled outdoor enthusiast from Erie, similarly supported an increase in fees. His statement sympathized with higher pension costs faced by the PGC, declining timber prices, costs associated with pests and conditions hurting wildlife.