PGC Busy Outlining Changes
Inside the Outdoors, May 13
, 2011

In the midst of being drenched by recent rains and the fish seasons beginning, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has been busy studying plans and making changes for the new 2011-2012 season. Some of those proposed were for counties outside the Westmoreland County. For example, in Wildlife Management Units 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B and 2 D, hunters in five WMUs “need to identify three antler points, not including the brow tine, which is the point immediately above the antler burr,” so states the PGC. “This regulatory change requires three points on the main antler beam, excluding the brow tine, for a buck to be legal. This is the first change in antler restrictions since 2002.”

Even though the subject of deer is mainly talked about first, it was interesting to note that the Board of Game Commissioners discussed changes affecting other animals and fowl as well.

For instance, there was an amendment that was unanimously approved to allow groundhog and waterfowl hunting during established seasons in Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas during the period when other small game hunting is closed from the first Sunday in February through July 31.

In as much as Latrobe is more of a goose-inhabited area, I, for one give little thought to other game birds inhabiting our woods in the outskirts of town. Thus, it was good to see that the PGC “will continue to raise and release pheasants on public lands with suitable pheasant habitat each year.” I know the Laurel Highland Chapter of Pheasants Forever works very hard each year to ensure such habitat is available for these beautiful game birds.

The PGC made note that “if it should receive additional revenues, it plans to increase our pheasant level to 250,000 birds, as noted in the Ring-necked Pheasant management Plan.” That is certainly good news to the LHCPF if plans go as mentioned.

It is unknown that people reading this column are aware that there is a porcupine season. I never heard of anyone skinning or even eating these animals. Can’t you just imagine a woman wearing a coat sewn together with hides and quills from that animal? I can only imagine that the quills must be used for something other than wearing apparel, for example.

Anyway, the Board gave final approval to a specific hunting season for these animals. One can hunt for them from Sept 1 through March 31. The daily limit is six and the field possession limit is 12.

According to the PGC, “Hunting pursing porcupines may use any legal sporting arm, and must wear 250 inches of fluorescent orange material. Porcupines may be harvested from one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.”

Other animals and birds one doesn’t hear much about are skunks, starlings and groundhogs. As good as they may be eating, it would seem to me that one would have to get a large number of starlings, for example, to get any kind of a meal from them.

Anyway, the Board gave approval to allow hunting for starlings, English sparrows, skunks, groundhogs and weasels during legal hunting hours of spring gobbler season. The PGC felt that “this change will increase opportunities for hunters pursuing these species without creating unacceptable conflicts with spring gobbler hunters.”

An amendment was unanimously passed to close late squirrel season from Feb. 4 to Feb. 25. Instead the dates set to take these animals will run from Dec. 26 to Feb 25.

Bobcat hunting will also be allowed to take place Jan. 17 to Feb. 7.

As for the animals we are most familiar, The Board gave “final approval to slate deer seasons for 2011 to 2012 that expands the split, five-day antler deer season (Nov. 28 to Dec.2), and a seven-day concurrent season (Dec 3 to 10) to a total of 11 WMUs. This list includes 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 3B, 3C, 4B, 4D and 4E. The package retains the two-week (Nov. 28 – Dec. 10) concurrent, antlered and antlerless season in WMUs 1A, 1B, 2B, 3A, 3D, 4A, 4C, 5A, 5B, 5 C and 5D.”

Hunters will be happy to hear that the Board expanded the bear seasons.

Approval was given by the Board to slate bear seasons for 2011 that includes concurrent bear and deer seasons in specific WMUs as well as portions of WMU extending the traditional statewide bear season by four days.

Hunters will have the opportunity to hunt during a statewide five-day archery bear season (Nov. 14-18); a four-day statewide bear season that will open on Saturday, Nov. 19, and then continue on Monday through Wednesday, Nov. 21-23; and a concurrent bear/dear season in WMUs 3D, 4C, 4D, 4E, 5B, and 5C on Nov. 30-Dec. 3.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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