The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners gave final approval on Tuesday to a regulatory change that makes permanent the use crossbows in archery deer and bear seasons.
The specific action taken by the board was removing the sunset date provision inserted into the regulatory changes that permitted crossbows in 2009. The sunset provision required the board and agency staff to review the impact of expanded use of crossbows on the deer and bear populations before June 30, 2012.
Based on staff input to the board, while there were increases in the archery harvests of deer and bear that could be attributed to the inclusion of the crossbow, the agency staff did not view the increase as unsustainable and the increased recreational opportunity was an added benefit.
In other actions of note, the board:
-- Added fall turkey to the Mentored Youth Hunting Program (MYHP). Under the change, adult mentors will have to transfer their fall turkey tag to a mentored youth if the youth harvests a fall turkey. A mentored youth may only have one fall turkey license transferred to him or her per license year. The list of other legal species for the MYHP is: antlered deer; antlerless deer (with the transfer of an antlerless deer license from the adult mentor); coyotes; groundhogs; squirrels and spring gobbler.
-- Gave final approval to remove the firearm limitations for fall turkey hunting in WMUs 1A, 1B and 2A, which presently requires the use of shotguns, crossbows or bows. While this move allows fall turkey hunters to choose to use rifles in these three WMUs, the use of rifles in Allegheny County, which is a designated Special Regulations Area county, will continue to be prohibited. With the expanded use of rifles for fall turkey seasons in WMUs 1A, 1B and 2A, the board also moved to change the fluorescent orange requirements. Specifically, fall turkey hunters in these three WMUs now will be required to wear a hat containing a minimum of 100 square inches of orange while moving or relocating and to post an orange band within 15 feet of their stationary hunting location.
-- Retained the split, five-day antlered deer season (Nov. 26-30) and seven-day concurrent season (Dec. 1-8) in 11 Wildlife Management Units (WMUs): 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 3B, 3C, 4B, 4D and 4E. The package also retains the two-week (Nov. 26-Dec. 8) concurrent, antlered and antlerless deer season in WMUs 1A, 1B, 2B, 3A, 3D, 4A, 4C, 5A, 5B, 5C and 5D.
-- Extended the closing day of the statewide archery deer season by one day to include Monday, Nov. 12, which is Veterans Day in 2012 and represents an additional day that some hunters may have off from work and be able to hunt. The 2012 fall archery deer season will run Sept. 29-Nov. 12.
-- Retained the antler restrictions enacted for the 2011-12 seasons, which includes the “three-up” on one side, no 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
-- Gave preliminary approval to a regulatory change requiring license holders to notify the agency within 30 days of any change of residency status, which will cost $6. However, the regulatory change will preclude the license holder from having to acquire a new license for the license year in which the change in residency has taken place. For example, if an individual purchases a resident license, but then moves out of state, they will have to notify the agency of the change in residency status and pay a $6 fee, and they may continue to hunt for that license year still using their resident license. The following year, however, they will need to purchase a nonresident license. Presently, if a resident license holder becomes a nonresident, their license immediately becomes invalid and they have to purchase a nonresident license for that year.
-- Approved purchases to expand five State Game Lands. The purchases include: 82.10 acres in Farmington Township, Clarion County adjoining SGL 24, referred to as the “Hall Tract”; 545 acres in Cranberry Township, Venango County adjoining SGL45, referred to as the “D. Vann Tract”; and 2,157.43 acres in multiple tracts in Frankstown, Blair, Taylor and Catherine townships, Blair County, and Bloomfield and Greenfield townships, Bedford County, adjoining or near SGLs 166, 147 and 41.