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HIGHLIGHTS FROM TODAY’S COMMISSIONERS MEETING

04/15/2023

HARRISBURG, PA - The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners met today in Harrisburg. Among other business, the board adopted the 2023-24 hunting and trapping seasons and bag limits. The final seasons and bag limits are provided in a separate news release. Other meeting highlights follow.

 

NEW ANTLERLESS LICENSE PROCESS FINALIZED

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today took final action to restructure the state’s process for obtaining antlerless deer licenses.

Until recently, state law had required antlerless licenses be issued only by county treasurers. Hunters seeking antlerless licenses would send applications and receive licenses by mail in what was considered an outdated and inflexible process.

Earlier this year, a new law took effect that enables all license-issuing agents to sell antlerless deer licenses, meaning hunters in the 2023-24 license year will be able to purchase them online or anywhere else licenses are sold.

With today’s vote, the Board of Commissioners has finalized the process by which licenses will be sold.

  • Antlerless licenses will be purchased online and at issuing agents; there will be no application by mail.
  • Antlerless licenses will go on sale during the first day of license sales, the fourth Monday in June (Monday, June 26 this year).
  • Only residents can apply initially.
  • Application by nonresidents won’t begin until the second Monday in July (July 10).
  • A hunter can get only one license in the first round.
  • A second round will begin the fourth Monday of July (July 24). Residents and nonresidents are eligible.
  • A hunter can get a second license in the second round for any WMU where tags are available.
  • A third round will begin the second Monday of August (Aug. 14). The sale of Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) permits also will begin on this date.
  • ·A hunter can get a third license in the third round.
  • Then, in the fourth round beginning the fourth Monday of August (Aug. 28), a hunter can buy additional licenses until reaching their personal limit of six. Additional licenses, if available, then can be purchased after the season begins, as the hunter harvests antlerless deer and reports them.
  • In each round, antlerless license sales won’t begin until 8 a.m.

The Game Commission will be making several announcements to inform hunters what they should do to obtain their antlerless licenses through this new method. Hunters are encouraged to review their HuntFishPA customer profile information to make sure contact information including their address, phone number and email are correct and up to date. That will allow the Game Commission to communicate directly with hunters.

In any case, the new, modernized process will increase convenience for hunters getting their antlerless deer licenses, said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans.

“A simpler, more convenient system is better for hunter satisfaction, and ultimately, hunter recruitment,” Burhans said. “We thank Sen. Dan Laughlin for championing this change, which will fully modernize the process for issuing antlerless licenses.”

More information about the new process can be found online here.

 

WMU 2H DISSOLVED, AREA PLACED WITHIN WMU 2G

Wildlife Management Unit 2H, which a decade ago was parceled out of neighboring Wildlife Management Unit 2G, has been placed back within WMU 2G.

The change will take effect in the 2023-24 license year to begin July 1.

The Board of Commissioners today adopted to a measure that dissolves WMU 2H – located in northcentral Pennsylvania, north of Interstate 80, south of U.S. Route 6, east of U.S. Route 219 and west of state Routes 155, 255, 555 and 120 – and moves its area into WMU 2G, which is east of WMU 2H and shared a boundary with it.

The 2013 decision to create WMU 2H was intended to give consideration to habitat differences between that area and the larger WMU 2G. More recently, however, Game Commission staff determined WMU 2H is too small to effectively collect adequate wildlife and hunter data for big game species. Furthermore, WMU 2H remains similar to WMU 2G in deer harvests and forest management.

 

NEW PROCESSING OPTIONS PROVIDED TO HUNTERS IN CWD AREAS

Hunters who harvest deer in Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) areas in future hunting seasons will have more choices, in more places, for where they can take their deer for processing or taxidermy.

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to a measure that updates requirements for deer hunters in the state’s CWD Disease Management Areas (DMAs) or Established Area (EA), and those who hunt deer or other cervids out of state.

Presently, hunters may not remove any high-risk cervid parts – the head and backbone among them – from any DMA or EA. When harvesting deer within these areas, a hunter must either take the deer to an approved processor or taxidermist associated with that DMA or EA, or remove the high-risk parts before transporting the meat, antlers and other low-risk parts elsewhere. Out-of-state hunters are prohibited from bringing any high-risk cervid parts back into Pennsylvania.

These protections serve to help limit the human-assisted spread of CWD within the Commonwealth.

The measure commissioners adopted today enhances those protections while eliminating unnecessary complexity and giving hunters more choices.

The Game Commission will begin development of a statewide list of cooperating processors and taxidermists. Any hunter who harvests a deer out-of-state or within a DMA or EA will be able to take it directly to a cooperating processor or taxidermist anywhere in the state.

That will give hunters better access to cooperating processors and taxidermists, which are approved based on their compliance with proper high-risk part disposal. It also adds convenience for hunters.

Under previous regulations, a hunter harvesting a deer within a DMA or EA, for example, was limited to using a processor or taxidermist within or near that area. For a hunter living somewhere else, that likely meant making a return trip to pick up their meat or mount. Now they will be able to drop off their deer somewhere closer to home.

In addition to creating a statewide list of cooperating processors and taxidermists, and authorizing any processor or taxidermist on the list to accept high-risk deer parts from out of state, the measure adopted by the board prohibits placing on the landscape any high-risk cervid parts from deer killed outside of Pennsylvania or within a DMA or EA.

 

PROPOSAL GIVES MENAGERIES MORE OPTIONS

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to amended regulations that will enable menageries to allow additional types of animals to have contact with people.

Previously, few animal species considered wildlife could be shown in such a manner.

The operator of a menagerie recently approached the Game Commission and requested these restrictions be relaxed, and upon review, the Game Commission determined changes could be made to the regulations without exposing the public to unnecessary danger or harm.

The adopted changes place wildlife into one of three categories for which separate rules apply regarding if and when they may be removed from cages to have contact with the public.

 

  • Category 1 – Ruminant animals can be removed from cages or confinement and directly exposed to the public, and may have public human contact, without restriction.
  • Category 2 – All other wildlife not defined as Category 3 wildlife may be removed from cages or confinement and directly exposed to the public, and may have public human contact, only if the wildlife is under the immediate control of the handler to preclude danger to the public.
  • Category 3 – Public human contact is not authorized for non-human primates and members of the family Ursidae, Filadae and Canidae. Members of the families Ursidae, Felidae, Canidae may not be removed from cages or confinement directly exposed to the public.

 

A menagerie is defined as "any place where one or more wild birds or wild animals, or one or more birds or animals which have similar characteristics and appearance to birds or animals wild by nature, are kept in captivity for the evident purpose of exhibition with or without charge."

The measure passed by a 6-3 vote with Commissioners Michael Mitrick, Todd Pride and Bob Schwalm voting against.

 

PROPOSAL ALLOWS FALCONERS TO HARVEST FURBEARERS

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to a measure that allows permitted falconers to harvest furbearers including minks, muskrats, foxes, opossums, raccoons, striped skunks and weasels.

These additions also have been reflected in the 2023-24 falconry seasons and bag limits.

This measure was requested by members of the falconry community.

 

SCIENTIFIC NAME CHANGES ADOPTED

The scientific names of three bird species have changed to conform with the currently accepted taxonomic nomenclature.

The yellow-crowned night heron has changed from Nycticorax violaceus to Nyctanassa violacea, the sedge wren has changed from Cistothorus platensis to Cistothorus stellaris, and the northern harrier has changed from Circus cyaneus to Circus hudsonius.

All three of these birds are classified as either threatened or endangered in Pennsylvania. While the change in scientific names does not affect the protection, management or common names of these species, it does ensure Pennsylvania’s lists are consistent with changes adopted elsewhere.

 

REGULATIONS FOR SPECIAL WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREAS UPDATED

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to a series of updates to the regulations governing special wildlife management areas, such as Middle Creek and Pymatuning.

A recent review by Game Commission staff determined the previous regulations were needlessly complex, redundant and outdated, and simply inconsistent with available technologies, particularly as related to the management of controlled hunts at these facilities.

The adjustments better organize and more clearly define the areas that may be designated within special wildlife management areas, including hunting and trapping areas, controlled hunting and trapping areas, and propagation areas and public recreation areas where no hunting is permitted.

The application process for controlled hunts within special wildlife management areas also is outlined, and outdated language was removed. Permits for such hunts, specifying the dates and applicable species to be hunted, will be awarded via a random drawing of applicants. In the event an awardee cancels fails to appear for check-in at least one-half hour prior to the start of their hunt, the Game Commission may void that permit and immediately prior to legal shooting hours conduct an equivalent random drawing to reassign it. That drawing will continue until all access permits are filled.

Language approved by the Board of Commissioners also allows hunters with a permit to seek permission to recover wounded or harvested game or wildlife from a controlled hunting or trapping area not specifically designated on their access permit by contacting the Game Commission using the telephone number provided with their permit.

 

LANDS ADDED, LEASES APPROVED

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today approved acquisitions adding nearly 286 acres to state game lands.

That involves the purchase of four properties. They are:

  • Roughly 148 acres in Piney Township, Clarion County, adjoining State Game Lands 330. Funding comes from the Game Fund. The parcel is an indenture to the game lands.
  • Roughly 50 acres in Graham Township, Clearfield County, adjoining State Game Lands 78. Funding comes from the Game Fund. This is an indenture to the game lands.
  • Roughly 79 acres in Donegal Township, Washington County, adjoining State Game Lands 232. Funding for this one, too, comes from the Game Fund. This parcel is likewise and indenture to the game land.
  • Roughly 9 acres in Snyder Township, Blair County, that’s an interior parcel to State Game Lands 158. Funding comes from The Conservation Fund.
  • Commissioners also approved four separate non-surface use oil and gas cooperative agreements, one each on four state game lands. Those agreements are for:
  • About 1,350 acres of State Game Lands 66 in Colley Township, Sullivan County.
  • About 3,800 acres of State Game Lands 57 in North Branch Township, Wyoming County.
  • About 459 acres of State Game Lands 208 in Gaines Township, Tioga County.
  • About 644 acres of State Game Lands 232 in Independence and Donegal townships, Washington County.

In all four cases, there will be no disturbance to the game lands surface or loss of recreational use. Money collected by the commission will be used in the future purchase of wildlife habitats, lands or other uses incidental to hunting, furtaking and wildlife resource management.

 

NEXT MEETING

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners announced that it will hold its next meeting on July 7 and 8, 2023 at the agency’s Harrisburg headquarters.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Travis Lau - 717-705-6541

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