PENNSYLVANIA UPS PENALTY FOR KILLING EAGLES

In addition to fines, replacement costs for killing eagles raised to $2,500.

 

Those who kill golden and bald eagles will face stiffer penalties under Pennsylvania law.

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to a measure that increases to $2,500 the replacement costs for killing bald eagles or golden eagles.

The heightened penalty will take effect in the coming months.

The bald eagle had been classified as a state-threatened species until early 2014, when it was removed from the Pennsylvania’s threatened-species list because its recovery met objectives outlined in the state’s bald-eagle management plan.

While golden and bald eagles both remain protected by federal and state law, the fact that neither bird was classified as threatened meant that killing a golden or bald eagle resulted at the state level in $200 in replacement costs. Replacement costs are restitution for unlawfully killed wildlife, and typically are paid in addition to fines.

Commissioners said the $2,500 replacement cost emphasizes that although golden and bald eagles are recovered in Pennsylvania, they still require further protection.

 

RABBIT, DOVE SEASONS TO OPEN TO MENTORED YOUTH

Changes likely will become effective in mid-November.

 

Mentored Youth hunters will see new opportunities in the 2015-16 license year.

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to measure that adds rabbits and mourning doves to the list of species mentored youth hunters may pursue.

The changes likely will become effective in mid-November, after a mandatory review process.

A news release will be issued when the new opportunities for mentored youth become effective under the law.

The Mentored Youth Hunting Program was established in 2006 as a way to give youth under the age of 12 an opportunity to experience hunting in a tightly controlled setting under the close supervision of an adult mentor. In the interest of safety, the adult mentor and mentored youth, together, may possess only one sporting arm between them while hunting, and the adult must carry it at all times while moving. The mentored youth then may hold the sporting arm once the pair takes a stationary position.

These safety measures will be applied as well to the hunting of rabbits and doves by mentored youth.

Since its inception, the Mentored Youth Hunting Program has proven successful and safe, and the list of species that can be pursued by mentored youth hunters has been expanded over the years.

In casting their vote, the commissioners pointed out that sporting organizations and other interested groups have continued to encourage the Game Commission to expand mentored youth hunting opportunities and, particularly, to add rabbits and mourning doves to the list approved for mentored youth.

When the measure takes effect, mentored youth hunters also will need a migratory game bird license to hunt and harvest mourning doves.

Requiring the license facilitates the Harvest Information Program (HIP), a cooperative state and federal program designed to improve the information collected regarding the harvest of migratory game birds. The license costs $3.70 for residents and a mentored youth permit costs $2.70.

 

CHANGES TO DMAP TO BE FURTHER REVIEWED

Commissioners want to continue meeting with the public landowners enrolled in the program.

 

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners will continue work on a proposal to make changes to the Deer Management Assistance Program, commonly known as DMAP.

DMAP provides private and public landowners an additional tool to meet deer-management goals on their properties through hunting. Landowners who apply may receive a number of DMAP permits they then can issue to antlerless-deer hunters for use during open deer seasons. The number of permits a landowner receives often is based on a formula of one permit per 50 acres, and the allocation may be increased due to heavy deer impact.

The board today voted unanimously to table a measure to limit the size of DMAP units on public parcels to 15,000 acres, and require DMAP coupons for public parcels be allocated based upon current conditions relative to goals and objectives outlined in an approved management plan.

Commissioners said that, in recent months, they’ve had several productive meetings with public landowners enrolled in DMAP, and they want to continue those conversations before considering changes to the program.

Commissioners noted that DMAP was designed specifically as a tool to deal with localized deer-impact issues rather than issues across a broader landscape, and added that hunters have expressed concerns DMAP might have too great an impact on deer herds, especially on state-owned lands.

By limiting the size of DMAP units on public lands, deer can be managed at a more distinct local level, the commissioners have noted.

Commissioners also noted they want to make sure DMAP deer-management plans are tied closely to forest-regeneration objectives for those properties, and when regeneration is occurring at or above the levels identified by the objectives, DMAP permit allocations are reduced.

 

ANTLERLESS ALLOCATIONS, DEER-URINE USE TOPICS OF DISCUSSION

Commissioners address issues to be further explored in the future.

 

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today addressed some of the issues to be explored further in the coming months.

Much of the discussion centered on antlerless deer license allocations.

The number of antlerless licenses statewide, and in many of the state’s 23 wildlife-management units, have been reduced significantly in recent years.

Commissioner Brian Hoover said the reductions came at the recommendation of hunters who wanted to see the deer population increase in the areas they hunt.

This year, however, antlerless licenses seemed to sell out earlier than ever. And many hunters have remarked that they did not receive the same number of antlerless licenses they’ve been accustomed to getting.

Hoover said, because of the reduction of antlerless licenses in recent years, deer populations have increased in a number of areas, and the commissioners might have the ability next year to again increase antlerless license allocations in some WMUs.

Commissioner Timothy Layton said he wants to take a look at the schedule by which nonresidents can apply for antlerless licenses.

As it is now, antlerless licenses are available to residents for a two-week period before nonresidents can buy them.

Layton said many nonresident hunters are native Pennsylvanians who moved away, but return to participate in the deer season, and some of them own hunting camps in Pennsylvania and return each year. The commissioners often speak with a number of such nonresidents who, because of the license schedule, are unable to purchase an antlerless license for the WMU in which they hunt.

Commissioner David Putnam reiterated Layton’s statement.

Layton asked Game Commission staff to provide data on license sales to both residents and nonresidents, and dates of license purchases and sellout dates, so the commissioners may further examine the issue.

Commissioner James Daley said he also is interested in looking at ways to spread antlerless licenses among hunters, so that more hunters end up with a license.

Meanwhile, a possible prohibition on the use or field possession of natural, urine-based deer attractants, which had been discussed at the August working group meeting of the Board of Game Commissioners, was discussed further today.

The issue is being explored because of the possibility prions that carry chronic wasting disease (CWD) could be present in natural, urine-based deer attractants.

Today, the commissioners asked Game Commission staff to provide an update on the issue.

Wayne Laroche, who heads up the Game Commission’s Bureau of Wildlife Management, said the deer-lure industry is looking at ways to certify the animals used in the production of urine-based deer attractants are free of CWD.

The Game Commission soon will meet with industry representatives, Laroche said.

 

HUNTERS TO BE LIMITED TO ONE MIDDLE CREEK GOOSE PER SEASON

New rules do not allow successful hunters to return.

 

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to a one-per-season limit on geese within the controlled goose-hunting area at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area, in the southeastern part of the state.

The change will take effect immediately, in the 2015-16 hunting season.

Hunters still will be selected by lottery to hunt from blinds within the controlled goose-hunting area and, as has been the case, each can harvest only one goose per day.

Previously, however, hunters who had been successful from a Middle Creek blind were able to reapply to hunt from an unclaimed blind later that same season, abiding by the controlled area’s daily bag limit of one goose. With the season limit within the controlled area now set at one goose per season, that no longer is the case.

Hunter success rates in recent years have declined within the controlled goose hunting area due in part to declining resident goose populations, fewer migrant geese and higher harvest rates on geese in areas surrounding Middle Creek.

Implementing a season limit is among the changes aimed at increasing hunter success and resident goose populations. September season hunting is closed on State Game Lands 46, which includes Middle Creek.

 

DELMARVA FOX SQUIRREL EXTIRPATED IN PENNSYLVANIA

Species never appeared in Commonwealth in high numbers, and has been absent for years.

 

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to a measure to classify the Delmarva fox squirrel as an extirpated species in Pennsylvania.

At the same time, the commissioners voted to identify the Allegheny woodrat as a species separate from the eastern woodrat.

One of three subspecies of fox squirrels listed in Pennsylvania, the Delmarva fox squirrel previously was listed as a state-endangered species. The Delmarva fox squirrel was considered present historically, but only a very limited portion of southeastern Pennsylvania. A reintroduction attempted in 1989 occurred with no documented survival past one year.

Suitable habitat for the species within its historic range in Pennsylvania is nonexistent, and no documented individuals have been recorded in the 25 years since the reintroduction effort was undertaken.

The mammal technical committee, a scientific advisory committee of the Pennsylvania Biological Survey, voted previously to consider the Delmarva fox squirrel as state extirpated, and to remove it from the list of state endangered mammals.

Across the species’ core range in coastal portions of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, it is considered stable and proposed to be removed from federal list of endangered species.

The second change updates the common name of the eastern woodrat in Pennsylvania to the Allegheny woodrat. Based upon genetic and morphological evidence, the eastern woodrat has been split into two species; the eastern and Allegheny woodrat.

Meanwhile, the Allegheny woodrat, which inhabits Pennsylvania, is considered a state-threatened species, but the Pennsylvania Code had recognized only the eastern woodrat, which is shown to be a separate subspecies.

With the change, the Allegheny woodrat is being placed on the state’s threatened species list.

 

OSPREY MANAGEMENT PLAN APPROVED

Survey planned for next year could lead to upgraded status for the state-threatened bird.

 

Pennsylvania has a newly approved plan for managing osprey, and survey work planned for next year could lead to an upgraded status for the state threatened species.

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today approved the agency’s new osprey management plan, which becomes effective immediately and will be up for renewal after 2025.

The plan was approved preliminarily in June, and made available to the public for review and comment.

The draft was strengthened by incorporating feedback from the public and the Board of Commissioners.

The final plan calls for a new survey of osprey nests to be conducted, likely next year, and for those results to then be compared to results from a 2010 survey. If the number shows population goals have been met, a proposal could be made to remove the osprey from the state’s list of threatened species, in recognition of the bird’s success.

 

FUTURE MEETINGS SET

January meeting in Harrisburg to provide first look at 2016-17 seasons.

 

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners next will convene at a working group meeting to be held Jan. 4 in Harrisburg.

Working group meetings are informational sessions between Game Commission staff and the Board of Commissioners, and no official action is taken by the board at working group meetings. The meetings are open to the public, but there is no period for public comment.

The Board of Commissioners then will meet Harrisburg at its first quarterly meeting of 2016. That meeting is scheduled to begin on Sunday, Jan. 31, with the 1 p.m. Sunday meeting dedicated to hearing public comment. The board then will hear staff reports beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 1, and will take up its regular agenda – which will include a preliminary list of seasons and bag limits for the 2016-17 season – at an8:30 a.m. meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 2.

The agenda for the January meeting will be posted at the Game Commission’s website closer to the meeting date.

 

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