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Saturday, April 9, 2016

FINAL 2016-17 HUNTING/TRAPPING SEASONS APPROVED

FINAL 2016-17 HUNTING/TRAPPING SEASONS APPROVED
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today set hunting and trapping seasons and bag limits for the 2016-17 license year, which begins July 1.
A list of all seasons and bag limits appears at the end of this news release.
The commissioners also set the number of antlerless deer licenses to be allocated, as well as the number of elk licenses to be allocated for the coming license year.
The board voted to allocate 748,000 antlerless deer licenses statewide. Allocations by Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) are as follows, with the allocation from the previous license year appearing in parentheses: WMU 1A - 46,000 (46,000); WMU 1B - 29,000 (29,000); WMU 2A - 43,000 (43,000); WMU 2B - 61,000 (61,000); WMU 2C - 31,000 (31,000); WMU 2D - 55,000 (55,000); WMU 2E - 21,000 (21,000); WMU 2F - 22,000 (22,000); WMU 2G - 21,000 (22,000); WMU 2H - 6,000 (6,500); WMU 3A - 15,000 (19,000); WMU 3B - 28,000 (28,000);WMU 3C - 36,000 (36,000); WMU 3D - 25,000 (25,000); WMU 4A - 30,000 (30,000); WMU 4B - 26,000 (26,000); WMU 4C - 25,000 (25,000); WMU 4D - 34,000 (33,000); WMU 4E - 25,000 (25,000); WMU 5A - 19,000 (19,000); WMU 5B - 50,000 (50,000); WMU 5C - 70,000 (70,000); and WMU 5D - 30,000 (24,000).
Hunters should note the boundaries again have changed for WMUs 5C and 5D.
Hunting licenses for 2016-17 go on sale in mid-June and become effective July 1. After hunters purchase a general hunting license, they may apply for antlerless deer licenses based on staggered timelines, which will be outlined in the 2016-17 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest presented to each license buyer. The 2016-17 digest also will be available at the Game Commission’s website, www.pgc.state.pa.us in mid-June.
The board also voted to issue 124 elk licenses (25 antlered, 99 antlerless) for the 2016 hunt.
The licenses again will be awarded by lottery, and the deadline to enter the drawing is July 31.
Elk applications cost $10.70, and only one application may be submitted each license year.
Other modifications approved for the 2016-17 seasons include: opening the squirrel and rabbit seasons on the same day; making the length of the snowshoe-hare season consistent statewide; decreasing the length of the fall-turkey season in Wildlife Management Units 1A, 1B, 2A and 4C; adding an extended, four-day season for black bears in WMU 1B; eliminating the extended season for black bears in WMU 3A; and doubling to 12 days the length of the fisher trapping season in the 13 WMUs with fisher seasons. Also the board noted its preliminary vote to reclassify porcupines as furbearers will not result in the addition of a trapping season in 2016-17.
Several highlights pertaining to 2016-17 seasons and bag limits follow.
SPLIT FIREARMS DEER SEASONS UP FOR APRIL APPROVAL
The Board of Game Commissioners adopted a slate of deer seasons for 2016-17, retaining a split, five-day antlered deer season (Nov. 28-Dec. 2
) and seven-day concurrent season (Dec. 3-10) in 18 Wildlife Management Units. The list includes WMUs 1A, 1B, 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E. The package also retains the two-week (Nov. 28-Dec. 10) concurrent, antlered and antlerless deer season in WMUs 2B, 5A, 5B, 5C and 5D.
Hunters with Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) antlerless deer permits may use the permits on the lands for which they were issued during any established deer season, and will continue to be permitted to harvest antlerless deer from Nov. 28-Dec. 10 in 1A, 1B, 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E. Fees for DMAP permits are $10.70 for residents and $35.70 for nonresidents.
DMAP permits also may be transferred to Mentored Hunting Program participants.
The board retained the same antler restrictions by which adult and senior license holders have abided since the 2011-12 seasons. It remains the “three-up” on one side, not counting a brow tine, provision for the western Wildlife Management Units of 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B and 2D, and the three points on one side in all other WMUs. Those exempt from these antler restrictions are mentored youth hunters, junior license holders, disabled hunters with a permit to use a vehicle as a blind and resident active-duty military on leave.
Once again this year, the commissioners approved concurrent hunting of antlered and antlerless deer in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D during all seasons, with the first segment of the archery season to run from Sept. 17 to Nov. 26 in those WMUs.
FALL TURKEY SEASON CHANGES MOVE FORWARD
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to fall turkey seasons for 2016 and spring gobbler dates for 2017.
The slate of turkey seasons approved represents a reduction in the length of the fall seasons in four Wildlife Management Units – WMUs 1A, 1B, 2A and 4C.
Those four WMUs all have shown indications of declining turkey population trends. The reduction of season lengths in those WMUs is in accordance with guidelines in the Game Commission’s Wild Turkey Management Plan.
The fall season in WMUs 1A and 2A is reduced to one week (Oct. 29-Nov. 5), plus a three-day Thanksgiving season (Nov. 24-26). In WMU 1B, the season will remain one week (Oct. 29-Nov.5), but the Thanksgiving season is eliminated. And in WMU 4C, the season is reduced to two weeks (Oct. 29-Nov. 12), plus the three-day Thanksgiving season (Nov. 24-26).
The fall season dates for 2016, as approved by the board today, are: WMU 1B, Oct. 29-Nov.5; WMU 2B (shotgun and bow only), Oct. 29-Nov. 18 and Nov. 24-26; WMUs 1A and 2A, Oct. 29-Nov. 5 and Nov. 24-26; WMUs 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C and 4D; Oct. 29-Nov. 12 and Nov. 24-26; WMUs 2C and 4E, Oct. 29-Nov. 18, and Nov. 24-26; and WMU 5A, Nov. 3-5. WMUs 5B, 5C and 5D will remain closed for the fall seasons.
For the 2017 spring gobbler season, which will run from April 29-May 31, the board continued with legal hunting hours to reflect the following: from April 29-May 13, legal shooting hours will be one-half hour before sunrise until noon; and from May 15-31, hunters may hunt all day, from one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.
The board approved holding the one-day Spring Gobbler Youth Hunt on April 22, 2017, which will run from one-half hour before sunrise until noon. All junior license holders and Mentored Youth permit holders can participate in this special half-day hunt, as well as the other spring season dates.
OTHER MODIFICATIONS EXPLAINED
Regarding the black bear seasons to be held in the 2016-17 license year, the addition of a four-day extended season in WMU 1B was approved by the board.
With the change, this season will run concurrently from Wednesday through Saturday of the first week of firearms deer season in WMU 1B (Nov. 30-Dec.3). This season was recommended to prevent further expansion of bears into the western portion of WMU 1B, where the potential for bear-human conflicts is high.
The board also eliminated the extended season for black bears in WMU 3A, based primarily on data regarding the bear population within that WMU.
Additionally, the board approved an earlier start to the regular season for cottontails, allowing the statewide season to align with that for squirrels (Oct. 15-Nov. 26, Dec. 12-24 and Dec. 26-Feb. 28). The shift also aligns the youth seasons for cottontails and squirrels (Oct. 1-15). Commissioners said the changes intend to simplify regulations as well as expand rabbit-hunting opportunity.
Likewise, the change to make the length of the snowshoe-hare season consistent statewide simplifies regulations, facilitates species monitoring programs, and reflects the fact that harvest mortality is not a major driver of population trends for this species, the commissioners said.
And the river otter season was expanded to one week, Feb. 18-25, 2017, eliminating the need to extend the season daily if the harvest quota is not met.
PROPOSED 2016-17 HUNTING SEASONS AND BAG LIMITS
SQUIRRELS, Red, Gray, Black and Fox (Combined): Special season for eligible junior hunters, with or without required license, and mentored youth – Oct. 1-15 (6 daily, 18 in possession limit after first day).
SQUIRRELS, Red, Gray, Black and Fox (Combined): Oct. 15-Nov. 26; Dec. 12-24 and Dec. 26-Feb. 28 (6 daily, 18 possession).
RUFFED GROUSE: Oct. 15–Nov. 26, Dec. 12-24 and Dec. 26-Jan. 21 (2 daily, 6 possession).
RABBIT (Cottontail) Special season for eligible junior hunters, with or without required license: Oct. 1-15 (4 daily, 12 possession).
RABBIT (Cottontail): Oct. 15-Nov. 26, Dec. 12-24 and Dec. 26-Feb. 28 (4 daily, 12 possession).
PHEASANT: Special season for eligible junior hunters, with or without required license – Oct. 8-15 (2 daily, 6 in possession). Male pheasants only in WMUs 2A, 2C, 4C, 4E, 5A and 5B. Male and female pheasants may be taken in all other WMUs. There is no open season for the taking of pheasants in any Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas in any WMU.
PHEASANT: Male only in WMUs 2A, 2C, 4C, 4E, 5A and 5B. Male and female may be taken in all other WMUs – Oct. 22-Nov. 26, Dec. 12-24 and Dec. 26-Feb. 28 (2 daily, 6 in possession). There is no open season for the taking of pheasants in any Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas in any WMU.
BOBWHITE QUAIL: Oct. 22-Nov. 26 (4 daily, 12 possession). (Closed in 5A, open in all other WMUs.)
HARES (SNOWSHOE RABBITS) OR VARYING HARES: Dec. 26–31, in all WMUs (1 daily, 3 possession).
WOODCHUCKS (GROUNDHOGS): No closed season, except on Sundays and during the regular firearms deer seasons. No limit.
PORCUPINES: Sept. 1-March 31, except during overlap with the regular firearms deer season. (3 daily, season limit of 10).
CROWS: July 1-April 9, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday only. No limit.
STARLINGS AND ENGLISH SPARROWS: No closed season, except during the antlered and antlerless deer season. No limit.
WILD TURKEY (Male or Female): WMU 1B Oct. 29-Nov.  5; WMU 2B (Shotgun and bow and arrow) – Oct. 29-Nov. 18 and Nov. 24-26; WMUs 1A and 2A – Oct. 29-Nov. 5 and Nov. 24-26; WMUs 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C and 4D – Oct. 29-Nov. 12 and Nov. 24-26; WMUs 2C and 4EOct. 29-Nov. 18  and Nov. 24-26; WMU 5A Nov. 3-5; WMUs 5B, 5C and 5D – CLOSED TO FALL TURKEY HUNTING.
SPRING GOBBLER (Bearded bird only): Special season for eligible junior hunters, with required license, and mentored youth April 22, 2017. Only 1 spring gobbler may be taken during this hunt.
SPRING GOBBLER (Bearded bird only): April 29-May 31, 2017. Daily limit 1, season limit 2. (Second spring gobbler may be only taken by persons who possess a valid special wild turkey license.) From April 29-May 13, legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until noon; from May 15-31, legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.
BLACK BEAR (Statewide) Archery: Nov. 14-18. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.
BLACK BEAR (Statewide): Nov. 19-23. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.
BLACK BEAR (WMUs 3B, 3C and 3D): Nov. 28-Dec. 3. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.
BLACK BEAR (WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D): Nov. 28-Dec. 10. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.
BLACK BEAR (WMUs 1B, 2C, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E): Nov. 30-Dec. 3. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.
BLACK BEAR (WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D) archery: Sept. 17-Nov. 18. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.
BLACK BEAR (WMU 5B) archery: Oct. 1-Nov. 18. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.
BLACK BEAR (WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D) muzzleloader: Oct. 15-22. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.
BLACK BEAR (WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D) special firearms: Oct. 20-22, for junior and senior license holders, disabled hunters with a permit to use a vehicle as a blind and resident active duty military.
ELK (Antlered or Antlerless): Oct. 31-Nov. 5. Only one elk may be taken during the license year.
ELK, EXTENDED (Antlered and Antlerless): Nov. 7-12. Only one elk may be taken during the license year. Eligible elk license recipients who haven’t harvested an elk by Nov. 5, in designated areas.
DEER, ARCHERY (Antlered and Antlerless) WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D: Sept. 17- Nov. 26 and Dec. 26-Jan. 28, 2017. One antlerless deer with each required antlerless license. One antlered deer per hunting license year.
DEER, ARCHERY (Antlered and Antlerless) Statewide: Oct. 1-Nov. 12 and Dec. 26-Jan. 14. One antlered deer per hunting license year. One antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.
DEER (Antlered and Antlerless) WMUs 2B, 5A, 5B, 5C and 5D: Nov. 28-Dec. 10. One antlered deer per hunting license year. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.
DEER (Antlered Only) WMUs 1A, 1B, 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E: Nov. 28-Dec. 2. One antlered deer per hunting license year. (Holders of valid DMAP antlerless deer permits may harvest antlerless deer on DMAP properties during this period.)
DEER (Antlered and Antlerless) WMUs 1A, 1B, 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E: Dec. 3-10. One antlered deer per hunting license year. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.
DEER, ANTLERLESS (Statewide): Oct. 20-22. Junior and Senior License Holders, Mentored Youth Permit Holders, Disabled Person Permit (to use a vehicle) Holders, and Pennsylvania residents serving on active duty in U.S. Armed Services or in the U.S. Coast Guard only, with required antlerless license. Also included are persons who have reached or will reach their 65th birthday in the year of the application for a license and hold a valid adult license, or qualify for license and fee exemptions under section 2706. One antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.
DEER, ANTLERLESS MUZZLELOADER (Statewide): Oct. 15-22. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.
DEER, ANTLERED OR ANTLERLESS FLINTLOCK (Statewide): Dec. 26-Jan. 14. One antlered deer per hunting license year, or one antlerless deer and an additional antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.
DEER, ANTLERED OR ANTLERLESS FLINTLOCK (WMUs 2B, 5C, 5D): Dec. 26-Jan. 28. One antlered deer per hunting license year, or one antlerless deer and an additional antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.
DEER, ANTLERLESS EXTENDED REGULAR FIREARMS: (Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties): Dec. 26-Jan. 28. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.
DEER, ANTLERLESS (Military Bases): Hunting permitted on days established by the U.S. Department of the Army at Letterkenny Army Depot, Franklin County; New Cumberland Army Depot, York County; and Fort Detrick, Raven Rock Site, Adams County. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.
 

PROPOSED 2016-17 FURBEARER HUNTING SEASONS
COYOTES: No closed season. Unlimited. Outside of any big game season (deer, bear, elk and turkey), coyotes may be taken with a hunting license or a furtaker license, and without wearing orange. During any big game season, coyotes may be taken while lawfully hunting big game or with a furtaker license.
RACCOONS and FOXES: Oct. 22-Feb. 18, unlimited.
OPOSSUM, STRIPED SKUNKS and WEASELS: No closed season, except Sundays. No limits.
BOBCAT (WMUs 2A, 2C, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4C, 4D and 4E): Jan. 14-Feb. 8. One bobcat per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.
PROPOSED 2016-17 TRAPPING SEASONS
MINKS and MUSKRATS: Nov. 19-Jan. 8. Unlimited.
COYOTES, FOXES, OPOSSUMS, RACCOONS, STRIPED SKUNKS and WEASELS: Oct. 23-Feb. 19. No limit.
COYOTES and FOXES (Statewide) Cable Restraints: Dec. 26-Feb. 19. No limit. Participants must pass cable restraint certification course.
BEAVERS (Statewide): Dec. 26-March 31 (Limits vary depending on WMU).
BOBCATS (WMUs 2A, 2C, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4C, 4D and 4E): Dec. 17-Jan. 8.
One bobcat per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.
FISHERS (WMUs 1B, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4D and 4E): Dec. 17-28. One fisher per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.
RIVER OTTERS (WMUs 3C and 3D): Feb. 18-25, 2017. One river otter per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.
PROPOSED 2016-17 FALCONRY SEASONS
SQUIRRELS (combined), BOBWHITE QUAIL, RUFFED GROUSE, COTTONTAIL RABBITS, Sept. 1-March 31, 2017.
SNOWSHOE OR VARYING HARES, RINGNECK PHEASANTS (Male or Female combined): Sept. 1-March 31. Daily and Field Possession limits vary. (Migratory game bird seasons and bag limits for falconers will be set in accordance with federal regulations at a later date.)
No open season on other wild birds or mammals.
Waterfowl and Migratory Game Bird seasons to be established in accordance with federal regulations this summer.

GAME LANDS DRONE BAN MOVES AHEAD
Measure seeks to minimize disturbance of wildlife.
 
The recreational flying of drones rapidly has gained in popularity, and as it has, the number of cases where drones have caused concern for wildlife has increased as well.
During the snow-goose migration season at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area this year, for instance, Game Commission staff detected at least five instances where drones disturbed wildlife. In one case, a drone was flown into an off-limits propagation area that serves as a sanctuary for resting waterfowl, and another disturbance caused hundreds of waterfowl to suddenly flush. There also were reports of drones being flown close to bald-eagle nests, which causes an obvious risk to eagles and their eggs.
Clearly, this type of activity runs counter to the intended use of properties like Middle Creek and other tracts of state game lands owned by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
And today, the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners cast a unanimous preliminary vote to enact a ban on the flying of unmanned aerial vehicles over lands or waters designated as state game lands.
The measure will be brought back to the July meeting, where commissioners will consider it for final approval.
In addition to protecting wildlife, the commissioners said the ban also would ensure drones aren’t used to interfere with lawful hunting and trapping on game lands.
The preliminarily approved measure provides for exceptions to be made through written permission by the executive director.
 
ANTLERLESS APPLICATION SCHEDULE CHANGES
Length between resident and nonresident application periods shortens.

Hunters who are Pennsylvania residents traditionally have been able to apply for antlerless deer licenses a full two weeks before nonresidents.
But the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today voted to shorten the time between resident and nonresident application periods to one week, allowing nonresidents to apply the third Monday in July each year.
The measure is part of an ongoing effort by the Board of Commissioners to make the application process fairer to nonresident deer hunters, many of whom are native Pennsylvanians who have moved away, but return to hunt with family.
Antlerless deer licenses are valid only in the Wildlife Management Unit for which they’re issued. In many of the state’s 23 Wildlife Management Units, licenses typically are available at the time nonresidents first can apply. But in some WMUs – particularly a handful in northcentral Pennsylvania where many nonresidents have camps – antlerless licenses sell out quickly and before nonresidents have a chance to apply.
Commissioners said the change will give those nonresidents a better chance to obtain a license, while still giving preference to residents.

PORCUPINE COULD BE RECLASSIFIED AS A FURBEARER
Provision could allow porcupines to be hunted or trapped, with proper licenses.

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today preliminarily approved reclassifying the porcupine as a furbearer.
If given final approval, the measure could allow for porcupines to be trapped, as well as hunted. Commissioners said a porcupine trapping season would not be implemented in the 2016-17 license year, and would be implemented in future seasons only if porcupines are reclassified and staff recommends a trapping season.
Based on the proposal, license requirements for hunting and trapping of porcupines would mirror those for coyotes. Porcupines could be hunted by those possessing either a hunting or furtaker license, and could be trapped by furtakers, as well, during established seasons.
The measure will be brought back to the July meeting to be considered for final approval.
 

COMMISSIONERS EMPHASIZE DEER CONTROL THROUGH HUNTING
Preliminarily approved provision requires deer-control permit holders to consider hunters first.

Municipalities and other political subdivisions that request permits to manage deer populations soon might need to more strongly consider managing deer through hunting before gaining approval to use another method.
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave preliminary approval to a series of amendments to the application process for special deer-control permits.
As part of the background information on deer populations and damage they’re required to submit, permit applicants would be asked to specifically define how licensed public hunting has been used in the problem area previously, and how it will be used during the period the permit would be valid.
Commissioners said the measure helps to ensure hunters will have an opportunity to manage deer on properties where high deer populations have created problems.
The amendments will be brought back to the July meeting for a final vote.
 
WMU BOUNDARY FURTHER ADJUSTED
Commissioners approve boundary shift between WMUs 5C and 5D.

The boundary between WMUs 5C and 5D was shifted last year to better divide the more-developed urban areas surrounding Philadelphia and the less-developed areas farther from the city.
And that boundary again has been changed through a vote today by the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners.
The commissioners gave final approval to a measure to expand WMU 5D northeast to provide a more logical boundary.
The boundary change approved today is different than the one given preliminary approval in January. WMU 5D will become larger than previously proposed, increasing by 51,849 acres that had been part of WMU 5C.
With the change, WMU 5D now is defined as follows: From the Delaware/Pennsylvania state line near Yorklyn, PA, Rt. 82 west to U.S. Rt. 30; U.S. Rt. 30 east to PA Rt. 113 at Downingtown; PA Rt. 113 north to Interstate 476; Interstate 476 west to PA Rt. 563 (Ridge Road); Ridge Road east, straight to PA Rt. 611; PA Rt. 611 south to the intersection of Tohickon Creek; and Tohickon Creek east to the Pennsylvania/New Jersey state line.

ACREAGE ACQUIRED AS GAME LANDS
Three acquisitions add about 55 acres to state game lands system.

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today approved three land acquisitions that will add a total of about 55 acres to the state game lands system.
Two of the acquisitions involve land being sold in Delmar Township, Tioga County by the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy.
The conservancy is selling for a $26,000 lump sum 21½ acres that are an indenture to State Game Lands 313, as well as a 6-acre tract adjacent to the game lands to be sold for $400 an acre. The 6-acre tract has an existing oil and gas lease that is excepted and reserved. The lease shall cease and determine upon expiration.
State Game Lands 313 also is known as “The Muck,” a designated Important Bird Area in the Marsh Creek drainage of the Pine Creek watershed.
“The Muck” is home to several bird species listed in the State Wildlife Action Plan. It is a breeding location for the state-endangered American Bittern and Least Bittern, as well as the Virginia Rail, Sora, Marsh Wren and Wilson’s Snipe.
There is a small upland component with mixed northern hardwoods for the properties being acquired, but most of the properties are comprised of palustrine, emergent wetlands.
A covenant and restriction shall run with these lands to ensure the property shall be administered in accordance with state laws governing the conservation of fish and wildlife.
Access to the larger acreage is from state Route 287 via a private right-of-way known as Cattail Lane. Access to the smaller tract is from the existing game lands.
The board also approved the acquisition of a 28-acre indenture to State Game Lands 88 in Saville Township, Perry County.
The property is being sold by Lowell E. Cassell and Joann E. Cassell for a $23,000 lump sum to be paid with funds from the Game Fund. The tract is wooded with a dry oak forest and the terrain is primarily steep and rocky. Access is provided from the existing game lands.

DISABLED VETERANS’ HUNTS PRELIMINARILY APPROVED
One shooting day at each Middle Creek, Pymatuning could be designated.

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave preliminary approval to a measure that would allow the Game Commission’s executive director to designate one shooting day at each the Middle Creek and Pymatuning Wildlife Management Areas as open only to veterans with disabilities.
Participants would be selected by a random drawing, and only those who qualify for and possess a disabled veteran license could apply. Successful applicants who participate in the hunt would be permitted to bring along three guests, so long as they possess proper general or base hunting licenses.
The measure will be brought back to the July meeting, where it will be considered for final approval.
 
EXPIRED-LICENSE POSSESSION MADE ILLEGAL
Intentional or accidental, violations arise from tagging big game with expired tags.

When July rolls around, a new hunting license year will begin and those licenses carried over the previous 12 months no longer are valid.
But the Wildlife Conservation Officers working for the Pennsylvania Game Commission sometimes encounter hunters and trappers who still are in possession of expired licenses and tags from the previous year. And in some cases, those in possession of expired licenses and tags are carrying them with the intention to use them unlawfully to tag an animal taken in the current season.
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners has addressed that problem, voting today to make it unlawful to possess any license or big-game tag from a previous license year while engaged in hunting or trapping activities. Licenses and tags that have been fulfilled, revoked or suspended also have been made unlawful to possess in the field.
Commissioners have noted the color of hunting licenses can’t be changed from year to year to make it easier for hunters to know which tags are valid. The PALS system through which hunting licenses are issued is operated jointly in Pennsylvania by the Game Commission and the state Fish and Boat Commission.
Because the license years for hunting and fishing licenses start and end at different times, hunting and fishing licenses for different licenses years are issued at the same time, meaning the color for each must remain consistent.
Commissioners reminded hunters it is unlawful to possess the licenses or tags of junior hunters and mentored youth.
 
RANGEFINDER USE CLARIFIED BY BOARD
Game Commission long has considered use of rangefinders ethical and in compliance with the law.

Electronic rangefinders have been added to the list of electronic devices Pennsylvania hunters are permitted to use.
While many hunters have used rangefinders for years, and the Game Commission long has considered them lawful, rangefinders never formally were added to the narrow list of permitted electronic devices.
That changed today through a vote of the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners. Both hand-held rangefinders and those contained within a scope or archery sight formally have been permitted, but those that cast a beam of any sort continue to be unlawful to use.
The state’s Game and Wildlife Code carries a broad prohibition on the use of electronic devices during hunting and trapping, but over the years, several devices have been reviewed – and in some cases – added to a list of devices that are an exception to the broad rule and can be used lawfully.
In reviewing devices and considering whether their use should be considered lawful, the Game Commission considers if and the degree to which the device might negatively impact principles of resource conservation, equal opportunity, fair chase and public safety.
 
LAW-ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITY CLARIFIED
Board adjusts regulation to reflect officers’ role in changing times.
 
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to minor changes to regulatory language that clarify the role officers play in enforcing criminal violations they encounter in the performance of their official duties.
Wildlife Conservation Officers are given authority under state law to enforce not only the state’s Game and Wildlife Code, but also the Crimes Code and a variety of other laws. The regulatory change removes a requirement for WCOs to attempt to transfer all general crime matters to local or state police. In almost all cases, state and local police decline to pick up cases from WCOs, and ask that the Game Commission prosecute the cases.
The primary responsibility of WCOs remains enforcement of the Game and Wildlife Code.
 
COMMISSIONERS APPROVE LEGAL SETTLEMENT

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today approved a legal settlement that will end a dispute over ownership of a 3-acre tract that is an interior to State Game Lands 42 in Saint Clair Township, Westmoreland County.
With the settlement, the Game Commission will pay a $25,000 lump sum to Highridge Water Authority and take possession of the 3-acre tract and resolve all disputes over ownership and access rights for water lines or equipment or vehicles to the property.
The settlement was approved by unanimous vote of the board.

BOARD OKs PARTICIPATION IN WATERFOWL SURVEY

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today announced its participation in a nationwide survey of waterfowl hunters.
The survey, being conducted by the University of Minnesota, is intended to help future waterfowl-harvest and habitat-management efforts in the Atlantic Flyway.
As a participant in the study, the Game Commission will provide to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service contact information for resident Pennsylvania waterfowl hunters registered in the Harvest Information Program.
Commissioners approved participation in the survey by a notational vote prior to the meeting, in order to meet the deadline for participation.
 
COMMISSIONERS ANNOUNCE FUTURE MEETING DATES

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners will reconvene in Harrisburg at a June 6 working group meeting to begin at 8 a.m. Working group meetings are open to the public, and allow for interaction between staff and the board, but no formal action is taken at working group meetings.
The next quarterly meeting of the board will be held Monday, July 11 and Tuesday, July 12 in Harrisburg, with each meeting slated to begin at 8:30 a.m.

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