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Hunting/Trapping Seasons Receive Preliminary Approval in PA for 2015-16

January 27, 2015
PAGC

HARRISBURG, PA - The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave preliminary approval to hunting and trapping seasons and bag limits for the 2015-16 license year.

Modifications proposed for the 2015-16 seasons include: opening the bobwhite quail season in all but one of the state's Wildlife Management Units; expanding the crow hunting season to include an additional weekend; decreasing the length of the fall turkey season in WMUs 2E, 3D, 4A, 4B and 4D to create a two-week fall season, plus a three-day Thanksgiving season; running the archery deer season from Sept. 19 through Nov. 28 in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D; and implementing a conservative-harvest river otter season in WMUs 3C and 3D.

The public may offer comments on all proposed 2015-16 seasons and bag limits, as well as other board actions, between now and the board's next meeting, April 9 and 10, at which time the board is scheduled to finalize seasons and bag limits for 2015-16.

Also, the board will receive at its April meeting staff recommendations for antlerless deer license allocations for each of the 23 WMUs. Deer harvest estimates for the 2014-15 seasons will be available in mid-March.

Following are several articles on meeting highlights.

Split Firearms Deer Seasons up for Approval

The Board of Game Commissioners adopted a slate of deer seasons for 2015-16, proposing a split, five-day antlered deer season (Nov. 30-Dec. 4) and seven-day concurrent season (Dec. 5-12) in 18 Wildlife Management Units. The list includes (WMUs) 1A, 1B, 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3D 3C, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E. The package also retains the two-week (Nov. 30-Dec. 12) 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. 30- Dec. 12 in 1A, 1B, 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3D 3C, 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 antler restrictions in place for adult and senior license holders 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.

Another deer-season change to gain preliminary approval applies to Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5C and 5D, where the archery season has traditionally opened early, with the first weeks being open to antlerless deer hunting only.

The commissioners gave tentative approval to 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. 19 to Nov. 28 in those WMUs.

Otter Trapping Season Proposed

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave preliminary approval to a limited otter trapping season that, if adopted, would allow for a conservative harvest of otters for the first time in Pennsylvania in more than a half-century.

If the proposal gains final approval in April, otters could be harvested by licensed furtakers who also obtain a separate otter permit.

The otter season would be three days long from Feb. 21, 2016 to Feb. 23, 2016 with an option for the Game Commission to extend the season by an additional five days. Those with a valid permit each would be able to harvest, by trapping only, one otter during the season. The season would be open only in WMUs 3C and 3D, in the northeastern part of the state.

Otter trapping regulations largely would follow those for beavers, based on the proposal. It would be unlawful to place, or make use of, materials or products except raw native wood or stone to direct the travel of otters. Man-made materials may be used only to support traps or snares.

It also would be unlawful to check, set, reset or otherwise maintain otter traps or snares, or remove otters from a traps or snares, unless the person is identified by the attached name tag as the owner.

Tagging requirements for those harvesting otters would be identical to the requirements for tagging bobcats and fishers. Before removing an otter from the location where it was caught, the trapper must fully complete and attach to the animal a tag furnished with the permit. The tag would need to remain attached until a Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) tag is attached, if applicable, or the animal is mounted, tanned, made into a commercial fur or prepared for consumption.

Those harvesting otters would be required to report harvests within 24 hours, which is less time compared to the 48 hours allotted to those harvesting fishers and bobcats.

The creation of an otter season also would have an impact on beaver trappers within the WMUs where an otter season is open.

Within any WMU with an open otter trapping season, beaver trappers would be able to use no more than five traps or snares, and no more than two traps could be body-gripping traps. This limitation would be applicable during periods when the open beaver trapping season overlaps by calendar date with the open otter trapping season, and it would extend for five additional, consecutive days after the close of the otter season.

Ordinarily, beaver trappers are limited to 10 traps, two of which may be body-gripping.

There has been no season for harvest of river otters in Pennsylvania since 1952. But most other states that now have sustainable otter populations have implemented a season. In fact, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island are the only eastern states without a season for river-otter harvest, and Indiana is in the process of starting a regulated otter harvest.

In Pennsylvania, river otters continue to thrive and are among the many great success stories in wildlife conservation.

It is estimated that as much as 75 percent of America's otter population had been lost by the start of the 20th century, due to factors including habitat destruction, water pollution and unregulated harvest.

Otters never were completely extirpated in Pennsylvania, though their numbers were reduced vastly. The Pocono region, particularly the counties of Wayne, Pike and Monroe, continued to sustain otters.

With a cleaner environment and otter populations restored through reintroduction programs and natural dispersal, otter populations are increasing across their range in Pennsylvania.

Today, they are present in almost every county and, in a lot of areas, they're becoming as common as beavers.

If given final approval, an otter permit would cost $6.70.

Fall Turkey Changes Move Forward

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave preliminary approval to fall turkey seasons for 2015 and spring gobbler dates for 2016.

The slate of turkey seasons tentatively approved reduces the length of the fall seasons three weeks to two weeks in five Wildlife Management Units WMUs 2E, 3D, 4A, 4B and 4D.

In addition to a two-week fall season, the three-day Thanksgiving season would continue to be held in those WMUs.

Game Commission staff said both the spring harvest density and the summer sighting index have declined in those WMUs and, in accordance with the Wild Turkey Management Plan, a decrease in season length is recommended.

The tentative fall season dates for 2015, as approved by the board Tuesday, are: WMU 1B, Oct. 31-Nov.7 and Nov. 26-28; WMU 2B (shotgun and bow only), Oct. 31-Nov. 20, and Nov. 26-28; WMUs 1A, 2A, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B and 4D; Oct. 31-Nov. 14, and Nov. 26-28; WMUs 2C, 4C and 4E, Oct. 31-Nov. 20, and Nov. 26-28; and WMU 5A, Nov. 5-7. WMUs 5B, 5C and 5D will remain closed for the fall seasons.

For the 2016 spring gobbler season, which is proposed to run from April 30-May 31, the board continued the change in legal hunting hours to reflect the following: from April 30-May 14, legal shooting hours will be one-half hour before sunrise until noon timeframe; and from May 16-31, hunters may hunt all day, from one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.

The board proposed holding the one-day Spring Gobbler Youth Hunt on April 23, 2016, which will run from one-half hour before sunrise until noon. All junior license holders and Mentored Youth Hunting Program permit holders can participate in this special one-day hunt, as well as the other spring season dates.

Proposed 2015-16 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. 10-16 (6 daily, 18 in possession limit after first day).

SQUIRRELS, Red, Gray, Black and Fox (Combined): Oct. 17-Nov. 28; Dec. 14-24 and Dec. 26-Feb. 20 (6 daily, 18 possession).

RUFFED GROUSE: Oct. 17Nov. 28, Dec. 14-24 and Dec. 26-Jan. 23 (2 daily, 6 possession).

RABBIT (Cottontail) Special season for eligible junior hunters, with or without required license: Oct. 10-17 (4 daily, 12 possession).

RABBIT (Cottontail): Oct. 24-Nov. 28, Dec. 14-24 and Dec. 26-Feb. 20 (4 daily, 12 possession).

PHEASANT: Special season for eligible junior hunters, with or without required license Oct. 10-17 (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. 24-Nov. 28, Dec. 14-24 and Dec. 26-Feb. 20 (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. 24-Nov. 28 (4 daily, 12 possession). (Closed in 5A, Open in all other WMUs.)

HARES (SNOWSHOE RABBITS) OR VARYING HARES: Dec. 26Jan.1, in all WMUs except WMUs 3B, 3C and 3D, where season will run from Dec. 26-29 (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 3-April 10, 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. 31-Nov. 7 and Nov. 26-28; WMU 2B (Shotgun and bow and arrow) Oct. 31-Nov. 20 and Nov. 26-28; WMUs 1A, 2A, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B and 4D Oct. 31-Nov. 14 and Nov. 26-28; WMUs 2C, 4C and 4E Oct. 31-Nov. 20 and Nov. 26-28; WMU 5A Nov. 5-7; 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 23, 2016. Only 1 spring gobbler may be taken during this hunt.

SPRING GOBBLER (Bearded bird only): April 30-May 31, 2016. 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 30-May 14, legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until noon; from May 16-31, legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.

BLACK BEAR (Statewide) Archery: Nov. 16-20. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR (Statewide): Nov. 21-25. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR (WMUs 2C, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E): Dec. 2-5. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR (WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D): Nov. 30-Dec. 12. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR (WMUs 3A, 3B, 3C and 3D): Nov. 30-Dec. 5. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR (WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D) archery: Sept. 19-Nov. 14. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR (WMU 5B) archery: Oct. 3-Nov. 14. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR (WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D) muzzleloader: Oct. 17-24. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR (WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D) special firearms: Oct. 22-24, 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): Nov. 2-7. Only one elk may be taken during the license year.

ELK, EXTENDED (Antlered and Antlerless): Nov. 9-14. Only one elk may be taken during the license year. Eligible elk license recipients who haven't harvested an elk by Nov. 8, in designated areas.

DEER, ARCHERY (Antlered and Antlerless) WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D: Sept. 19- Nov. 28 and Dec. 26-Jan. 23, 2016. One antlerless deer with each required antlerless license. One antlered deer per hunting license year.

DEER, ARCHERY (Antlered and Antlerless) Statewide: Oct. 3-Nov. 14 and Dec. 26-Jan. 9. 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. 30-Dec. 12. 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. 30-Dec. 4. 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 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3C, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E: Dec. 5-12. One antlered deer per hunting license year. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

DEER, ANTLERLESS (Statewide): Oct. 22-24. 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. 17-24. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

DEER, ANTLERED OR ANTLERLESS FLINTLOCK (Statewide): Dec. 26-Jan. 9. 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. 23. 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. 23. 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 2015-16 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. 24Feb. 20, 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. 16-Feb. 9. One bobcat per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.

PROPOSED 2015-16 TRAPPING SEASONS

MINKS and MUSKRATS: Nov. 21Jan. 10. Unlimited.

COYOTES, FOXES, OPOSSUMS, RACCOONS, STRIPED SKUNKS and WEASELS: Oct. 25Feb. 21. No limit.

COYOTES and FOXES (Statewide) Cable Restraints: Dec. 26-Feb. 21. No limit. Participants must pass cable restraint certification course.

BEAVERS (Statewide): Dec. 26March 31 (Limits vary depending on WMU).

BOBCATS (WMUs 2A, 2C, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4C, 4D and 4E): Dec. 19-Jan. 10.

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. 19-24. One fisher per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.

RIVER OTTERS (WMUs 3C and 3D): Feb. 21-23, 2016. One river otter per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.

Proposed 2015-16 Falconry Seasons

SQUIRRELS (combined), BOBWHITE QUAIL, RUFFED GROUSE, COTTONTAIL RABBITS, Sept. 1-March 31, 2016.

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 in August.)

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

 
 

 

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