Friday, February 4, 2011

Commissioners Tweak Hunting Seasons


HARRISBURG — It looks as though the shape of deer-hunting seasons is going to change again this year.

Pennsylvania Game Commissioners gave tentative approval Tuesday to seasons and bag limits for the 2011-12 license year. The deer, turkey, bear and small-game seasons all got tweaked.

When it comes to whitetails, commissioners added three wildlife management units - 2A, 2F and 3B - to the list of those where the first five days of the firearms deer season will offer bucks-only hunting. The antlerless season would start on the season's first Saturday and continue through the second week.

The move - if given final approval when commissioners gather in April - would leave 11 of the state's 22 wildlife management units with two weeks of concurrent buck and doe hunting and 11 with a split-season format. Commissioner Ralph Martone of New Castle said the move was in response to requests from hunters.

As expected, commissioners also expanded the state's black bear season. For the second consecutive year, it will open on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. But it will also continue Monday through Wednesday of the following week, bringing the season to four days — one more than it has been in about two decades.

Commissioners also added days to the fall turkey seasons. Generally speaking, the seasons will open on the last Saturday in October - as they did prior to changes last year - and continue for two to three weeks, depending on wildlife management unit. They will reopen on Thanksgiving and continue through the following Saturday — something that was first tried this past year.

"This allows us to take what was positive from the Thanksgiving segment of the season and what was positive from the traditional segment of the season and put them together," Martone said.

When it came to small game, commissioners added a week to the tail-end of ruffed grouse season, so that it would close Jan. 28, 2012. But they rejected a staff recommendation to open all small-game seasons - for squirrels, grouse, rabbits and pheasants - on the same day in the fall, Oct. 15. Instead, squirrels and grouse become fair game that day, while the rabbit and pheasant seasons open one week later on Oct. 22.

Commissioner Jay Delaney of Luzerne County said those changes were suggested by sportsmen, especially dog owners, who are concerned about everything from ticks and dog health to cooler weather and having less vegetation standing. That's what drove it," Delaney said.

The move will allow youth hunters two exclusive Saturdays for hunting rabbits and pheasants, Martone added.

Read more: Commissioners tweak hunting seasons - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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