HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources today announced new rules prohibiting rifles and handguns for hunters at four state parks in the southeastern region of Pennsylvania.

Under the new policy, the use of all center fire and rim fire rifles and handguns for the purposes of hunting is prohibited at Evansburg, Marsh Creek and Nockamixon state parks, as well as White Clay Creek Preserve.

The use of shotguns, muzzleloaders, and bows and arrows are still permitted during established hunting seasons; except for the portion of White Clay Creek Preserve in London Britain Township where only the use of muzzleloaders and bows and arrows is permitted.

The DCNR says these changes were made to accommodate hunting in more heavily used state parks and to enhance the safety of everyone recreating in the park and are effective immediately.

The full text of the policy has been posted to the PA Bulletin website.

“DCNR’s state parks staff have worked earnestly with key stakeholders to develop new firearms restrictions to increase public safety, while continuing to provide opportunities for those who hunt at state parks,” said State Parks Director John Hallas. “We expect all parties to adhere to rules and regulations while visiting state parks and recreation areas to ensure the health and safety of our visitors.”

By restricting the use of rifles and handguns for the purposes of hunting at these state parks, the department will be able to provide necessary visitor safety and mitigate risks at these multi-recreational-use parks. Non-hunters should be aware that hunting occurs in state parks and wear orange during hunting seasons. 

DCNR offers the following guidance for those hunting at state parks:

  • Hunters should use extreme caution with firearms at all times. Other visitors use the park during hunting seasons.
  • Firearms and archery equipment used for hunting may be uncased and ready for use only in authorized hunting areas during hunting seasons.
  • In areas not open to hunting or during non-hunting seasons, firearms and archery equipment shall be kept in the owner’s car, trailer, or leased campsite.

Hunting is only permitted in designated areas during designated times at state parks. The parks will update the public on the new guidelines through PA Bulletin, alerts on the park websites and social media, as well as onsite signage and bulletin board postings. Questions about the new regulations may be directed to ra-park-operations@pa.gov, 717-787-6640 or (800) 654-5984 (TDD users).

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Many areas in the commonwealth’s 121 state parks are open to hunting, offering a variety of game species and habitats. Visit DCNR’s website for more information about hunting at state parks and forests.