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PA Game Commissioners adopt 2009-10 Seasons and Bag Limits

From the Pennsylvania Game Commission

-- The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners has approved hunting and trapping seasons and bag limits for 2009-10, including an antlerless deer license allocation for the 22 Wildlife Management Units and a new hunting hour table for the new license year.   
 
Board Modifies expanded use of Crossbows

Commissioners gave final approval to a regulatory change that would allow hunters to use magnifying scopes on bows or crossbows during the archery deer and archery bear seasons.  On March 5, in a notational vote, the Board gave preliminary approval to the modification. 
 
At its January meeting, the Board gave final approval to a regulatory change to permit the use of crossbows in archery deer and bear seasons.  Prior to that vote, however, the Board accepted an amendment to prohibit the use of magnifying scopes during the archery deer and bear seasons.
 
“Shortly after that vote, the agency began to receive significant public comment about that magnification prohibition,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “The Board decided it would be appropriate to revisit this aspect of the recently approved use of crossbows in the state’s archery seasons.”

The amendment includes a sunset date for the expanded crossbow use remains in place.  This provision will require a future Board to consider the impact of expanded use of crossbows, if any, before June 30, 2012, and whether the privilege should continue into the future.

For the 2009-10 seasons, a crossbow must have a peak drawn weight of at least 125 pounds, and a bolt must be equipped with a broadhead that has an outside diameter or width of at least 7/8 inches with at least two cutting edges on the same plane throughout the length of the cutting surface, and shall not exceed three inches in length.  There is no maximum draw weight.

Crossbows may only be used during the early and late muzzleloader season when they overlap with archery seasons and an archery license is required.

Deer Seasons to be similar for 2009-10
 
The 2009-10 seasons retain 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 extension of 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 April 20, 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, visit the agency website at 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. 

Antlerless deer license allocations also approved

Antlerless license allocations for each of the 22 Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) were approved, and will be based on measurements of deer health, habitat health and level of deer-human conflicts based on Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) input, as well as deer population trends.

The agency seeks a decrease in the population trends in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D, which are the three most developed areas of the state.  Based on CAC input, and supported by scientific measurements, the agency is continuing to allow for an increase in the population trend in WMUs 4E and 5A.  In all other WMUs, the agency continues to seek stabilization of population trends.  The only WMU to see an increase in its allocation is WMU 5C, which increased from 92,000 last year to 113,000 for the 2009-10 seasons.

More detailed information for each WMU allocation will be posted on the agency’s website in the near future.

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