Canonsburg, PA – Thanksgiving offers all Pennsylvanians and Americans an opportunity to reflect and give thanks for the many blessings we’re afforded to live in a free and just society. In much of Pennsylvania, it also serves as a reminder to thousands of sportsmen that opening day of deer season is around the corner. With that in mind, the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) wants to take an opportunity to remind our neighbors and sportsmen of some basic yet very important tips for hunting in areas where natural gas development may be underway.
As sportsmen take to the woods, they should be aware that the development of natural gas in many regions across Pennsylvania may have resulted in changes to the landscape. Although the edge habitat and additional access to your hunting areas will likely improve hunting in coming years, there may be some temporary disruptions and precautions to take near active gas operations. Recognizing this, the MSC’s Land Affairs Committee has developed the following tips for sportsmen and women when hunting or fishing near areas where Marcellus exploration or pipeline activities are underway.
- Always ask permission prior to hunting or fishing on private property. With the exception of public lands, all lands are privately owned and subject to trespass laws. Asking permission before entering private property is always the right thing to do, and the landowner may be able to provide you with information about ongoing and planned gas industry activities on their property, so that you are aware prior to going afield. Likewise, local Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) regional offices may be able to alert you to gas industry operations on their lands.
- Always be alert when driving and park well off the traveled portion of the roadway. Vehicle safety is critically important to the gas industry. Operators work with DCNR and PGC to minimize traffic on key season opening days and holidays, but not all truck traffic ceases and many hunting and fishing seasons span several weeks. In many areas, large trucks will be sharing the roadway, so be sure to park well off the roadway.
- Drill sites typically have temporary housing, office trailers, control rooms and restrooms which are occupied structures with associated safety zones. The Game Law establishes a 150-yard safety zone around occupied structures during firearms hunting seasons, and 50-yards in some cases for bow hunters. Remember that you cannot hunt for, shoot at, or disturb wildlife in safety zones without specific permission from the landowner(s).
- Do not hunt near, around or from atop production equipment including storage tanks. Restricted areas should be respected as a safety concern and should not be trespassed upon.
- Always identify your target and what is beyond it. In addition to construction and drilling activity on and near operational locations, foresters, surveyors, environmental and other industry or contract personnel may be in the field doing planning work for future operations. MSC member companies will try to minimize these activities on season opening days and Saturdays, but you may encounter such personnel during your hunts. They may not be wearing fluorescent orange, so as always, be absolutely sure of your target and what is beyond.
- Do not shoot at random. The game law prohibits random shooting during big game seasons. Random shooting near gas drilling sites, compressor stations, processing facilities and pipelines is dangerous and unlawful.
- If you see something that looks unusual or suspicious on or near a well site or other facilities, please let us know. Emergency phone numbers are posted at the entrance to all well sites, and many are patrolled by security guards who are present on site.
- If you become lost or injured in the woods, and can see or hear an occupied well site, we encourage you to seek a representative’s attention, as we would be pleased to help. For your personal safety, please remember to always notify a representative of the well site before walking onto the pad, as it is an active industrial work site.