• PA Pheasant Hunting Changes

    Common Pheasant
    Image via Wikipedia

    The Board of Game Commissioners gave final approval to a major change in pheasant hunting designed to be the first major step toward re-establishing wild pheasant populations in Pennsylvania.

    Under the agency’s recently approved Ring-necked Pheasant Management Plan, the Game Commission calls for restoring self-sustaining and huntable populations of wild pheasants in suitable habitats called “Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas” (WPRAs), and defined as the Pike Run, Somerset and Central Susquehanna WPRAs. The agency will facilitate the release of wild-trapped pheasants into these areas, with a goal of achieving a density of 10 hen pheasants per square mile.

    To give these wild pheasants the best opportunity to establish naturally reproducing populations, the Board has banned the release of any artificially propagated pheasants – including Game Commission raised pheasants –within these WPRAs. Also, to limit disturbances to nesting hen pheasants, dog training of any manner will be prohibited in these WPRAs from the end of small game season in early February through July 31 each year.

    “Working with major partners, such as Pheasants Forever, the University of California and local landowners, we already have a jump-start on creating WPRAs,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “These groups have invested in creating the necessary pheasant habitat in three areas of the state. To make the best use of the agency’s resources, and with the support of these partners, we are going to establish these areas as the first WPRAs in the state.

    “While we hope to identify more, the Game Commission will continue to raise and release pheasants on public lands with suitable pheasant habitat each fall. And, should we receive additional revenues, we plan to increase our pheasant production level to 250,000 birds, as noted in the Ring-necked Pheasant Management Plan.”

    A native of Asia, pheasants were brought to North America back in the mid-1700s, but these early attempts to introduce pheasants to the continent were unsuccessful. It wasn’t until 1881, in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, that pheasants first became established.

    During the early 1890s, Pennsylvania citizens purchased pheasants from English gamekeepers and released them in Lehigh and Northampton counties. For several decades, many other small releases were made across the Commonwealth to establish pheasants for sport hunting.

    In the early 1900s, the Game Commission set aside a special appropriation of funds to purchase and propagate game. Pheasant eggs were purchased and given to agency refuge keepers, sportsmen’s organizations and private individuals interested in raising pheasants. The first stocking of pheasants by the Game Commission occurred by 1915.

    Habitat loss, from urban/suburban sprawl to changes in agricultural practices, had an impact on Pennsylvania’s naturally-reproducing pheasant populations. Additionally, budget constraints forced the Game Commission, in 2005, to reduce its annual pheasant stocking allocation from 200,000 to 100,000.

    For more information on pheasants and the history of the agency’s pheasant management plan and propagation program, visit the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), select “Hunting” then click on the photograph of the pheasant.

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  • PA 2009-2010 Deer Hunting Seasons Approved

    Deer Hunting Trip 06 092
    Image by John Beagle via Flickr


    The Board of Game Commissioners gave final approval to a slate of deer seasons for the 2009-10 seasons that retains all of the opportunities provided in the past to address the goals of the agency’s deer management plan. The only significant change was the Board’s vote to extend the late flintlock season for Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 2B, 5C and 5D to run from Dec. 26 to Jan. 23.

    Hunters in WMUs 2D, 2G, 3C and 4B will again have a five-day, antlered deer only season starting the Monday after Thanksgiving, followed immediately by seven days of concurrent, antlered and antlerless deer hunting. The proposed package retains the two-week (12-day) concurrent, antlered and antlerless season in the remaining 18 WMUs.

    On Monday, the Board received a presentation by the Bureau of Wildlife Management regarding the study that has begun to evaluate the impact of split seasons in WMUs 2D, 2G, 3C and 4B on hunter success rates for future use as a new management tool. (For more information on the study, please see “News Release #012-09 in the “News Release” section of the agency’s website – www.pgc.state.pa.us.)

    Roe noted that, in 2008, the four WMUs chosen for this split season were because: WMUs 2G and 4B have ongoing deer research in them; WMU 2D is an area where antler restrictions are set at four points on one side, and is where the agency previously had deer research conducted; and WMU 3C is an area where antler restrictions are set at three points on one side, and is an area of the state where no extensive deer research has been conducted.

    “Antlerless deer harvest versus number of days of opportunity, or the overall season length, will be evaluated, and we will conduct annual surveys of hunters to address other aspects of the program,” Roe said. “Stakeholders may be able to provide input by sharing whether they’d like more opportunity via time, such as two weeks or more, or more people involved through perhaps more tags and shorter seasons.”

    The Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) that addresses landowner deer management objectives within WMUs remains in place. Hunters with DMAP antlerless deer permits may use them during any established deer season, and will continue to be permitted to harvest antlerless deer from Nov. 30-Dec. 12 in WMUs 2D, 2G, 3C and 4B.

    “DMAP provides a tool to harvest antlerless deer on specific properties to lessen deer impacts for landowners and the habitat,” Roe said. Fees for DMAP permits are $10 for residents and $35 for nonresidents.

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  • PA Approves Higher Poaching Fines

    HARRISBURG – The Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to a regulatory change that establishes replacement costs that may be assessed on those convicted of illegally killing certain wildlife in Pennsylvania.

    Under the new regulation, a judge will be able to assess anyone convicted of illegally killing the following wildlife a replacement cost of: $5,000 for any endangered or threatened species; $1,500 for an elk or bear; $800 for a deer; $500 for a bobcat or river otter; $300 for a wild turkey or beaver; and $200 for any other wildlife.

    Additionally, if the big game animal were a “trophy class animal,” judges will be able to require a replacement cost of $5,000 for an elk with a minimum Boone & Crockett Club green score of 200 points; a deer with a minimum Boone & Crockett Club green score of 115; or a bear with a field-dressed weight of more than 350 pounds.

    “These replacement costs are on top of those fines and penalties already specified in the Game and Wildlife Code, which may only be changed by the state Legislature,” said Rich Palmer, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Protection director. “In addition to this action by the Board, we are asking the General Assembly to pass House Bill 97, sponsored by Rep. Ed Staback (D-Lackawanna), who chairs the House Game and Fisheries Committee, which would increase the fines and penalties for poaching.”

    Palmer noted that increasing penalties for serious violations is one of the operational objectives in the Game Commission’s Strategic Plan.

    For more information on the Game Commission’s previous testimony on legislation to increase fines and penalties, see News Release #015-08 in the “News Release” archives on the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us).

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  • Ohio Youth Turkey Hunt May 2nd

    Ted Strickland, governor-elect of the U.S.
    Image via Wikipedia

    COLUMBUS, OH – Saturday, May 2 marks the second annual Youth Turkey Hunt hosted by Gov. Ted Strickland, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

    “Ohio has a rich outdoor heritage and seeks to motivate seasoned sportsmen to pass on the traditions to the next generation,” said Sean Logan, director of the ODNR. “Governor Strickland’s youth turkey hunt will pair young people from across the state with hunting mentors in a manner inspired by Ohio’s apprentice hunter program.”

    Gov. Strickland has invited sports celebrities to partner with nationally known hunting guides in taking 10 Ohio youth spring turkey hunting. The event dovetails with a statewide effort to promote youth and outdoor recreation, as well as highlight Ohio’s premiere wild turkey hunting opportunities.

    The 10 youth selected to participate were the top finishers in a statewide essay contest answering the question, “What makes a good hunter?”  The following communities will have a youth representative: Alliance, Ashville, Carrolton, Cincinnati, Fort Loramie, Georgetown, Marysville, Monclova, Newark, and Wapakoneta.

    The Eastern wild turkey is Ohio’s largest game bird. Spring wild turkey hunting is open in all 88 Ohio counties for a four-week season. Legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until noon daily. Ohio’s wild turkey population was estimated at 200,000 prior to the start of the spring season.

    The Ohio Department of Natural Resources ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR web site at www.ohiodnr.com.

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  • Deer on the Net: Web Based Management Program

    Online Program would give Landowners basic Profile Information on Hunters Seeking to Use their Lands.

    COLUMBUS, OH – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife has teamed up with the Ohio Farm Bureau to consider a pilot program that will help manage local deer herds and expand hunter access.

    The two agencies are exploring the possibility of developing a web-based deer hunter access program. Through the program, which would be run on a trial basis in selected counties, landowners could review a searchable database of deer hunters and select hunters to whom they would grant hunting permissions. A survey, available at wildohio.com, will help determine deer hunters’ interest in participating in such a program.

    To be involved in the program, hunters would have to complete an online profile that could include the number of years hunting experience, willingness to harvest does, preferred type of hunting (archery, shotgun, muzzleloader), and willingness to submit to a background check at the request of the landowner.

    The program’s concept provides landowners with a desired level of control and hunters benefit from increased hunting opportunities.

    Hunters will not be charged to submit their profiles to become eligible for the access program. There is also no additional charge to hunt on enrolled properties. All who submit their profiles are not guaranteed to receive hunting permissions.

    Access to hunt deer is a major component to successful deer management. Because 95 percent of Ohio’s land base is held in private ownership, access to private property is vital to the success of Ohio’s deer management program. Access to private property is a privilege that cannot be legislated.  For that reason it is essential that hunters and landowners work cooperatively to develop positive relationships that facilitate the harvest of deer, specifically does, from private property.

    The Ohio Department of Natural Resources ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. To access the survey, deer hunters are encouraged to visit the front page of the Division of Wildlife website at http://wildohio.com.

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