Hunting and trapping have been a part of Pennsylvania’s rich history since the beginning of the Commonwealth. When Europeans arrived in 1610, they discovered an abundance of wildlife. Elk, deer, black bear, waterfowl, and even moose, along with predators such as wolves and mountain lions, roamed the mountains, swamps, and forests of the state. Settlers hunted and trapped for food and furs to survive in the “wilderness” that was Pennsylvania. This way of life was not taught in a classroom but was passed on by family members from one generation to the next.
It wasn’t until 1959 that Pennsylvania provided any type of official training. The first courses were known as “safety courses” and were taken on a voluntary basis. By 2009, with hunter and trapper education mandatory, nearly 2,000,000 students have been certified.
How has this helped hunting and trapping in Pennsylvania? Since the beginning of hunter and trapper education programs, hunting fatalities and injuries from firearms have declined nearly 80 percent. It is the goal of this hunter and trapper education program to continue to produce safe, responsible, knowledgeable, and involved hunters and trappers in Pennsylvania.