PA Board of Game Commissioners Announce Changes for 2023-24 Seasons | News, Sports, Jobs

BRYN GIBSON ABOUT UNSPLASH Changes coming from the PA Game Commission will affect the 2023-24 hunting season.

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners met in Harrisburg over the weekend to discuss business and changes related to the 2023-24 hunting and trapping season and catch limits.

As a result of this meeting, many changes were proposed for the 2023-24 season including but not limited to:

— For black bears, WMUs 1B, 2C, 4A, 4B and 4D would be removed from the extended black bear firearms season due to a decrease in complaints of harassment in these units.

— For Elche, the proposed archery season would be a week later than 2022-23 to allow additional time between the license draw and the start of the season.

– While no significant changes have been proposed for white-tailed deer or wild turkey seasons, it is proposed that the 2024 juvenile season and spring turkey regular season open five days later than 2023 due to normal calendar fluctuations and Wild Turkey Management Plan Policy, with regular season opening on Saturday, which is closest to May 1st.

Before voting on the seasons and baggage limits, the board reviewed the latest licensing data, which showed a positive change after the introduction of the opening game on Saturday; They continue with a Saturday firearms deer season opener.

Specifically, licensing data showed that moving to an opener on Saturday was followed by increased license sales from 18-34 year old hunters and female hunters.

The board also tentatively approved a measure that entitles all serviced hunters – including serviced adults – to participate in October’s special firearms season for antlerless deer and bears.

The Board also began taking action to restructure the state process for obtaining antler stags licenses.

New law went into effect this month allowing all licensing agents to sell antlerless deer licenses, meaning hunters in 2023-24 will have the option to buy them online or wherever licenses are sold .

Previously, state law required that antlerless licenses could only be issued by county treasurers, and all hunters seeking those licenses had to send applications and receive licenses through the mail. This was widely considered outdated and inflexible.

During this weekend’s preliminary vote, if accepted, the board outlined the process by which licenses would be sold.

The new process will not be complete until the board approves it, with adjustments being made ahead of a final vote scheduled for the April meeting. Once it is complete, the Game Commission will make several announcements to inform hunters of what they should do to obtain their antlerless licenses.

The new, streamlined process will increase the convenience for hunters in obtaining their antlerless deer licenses, according to Bryan Burhans, executive director of the Game Commission.

“A simpler, more convenient system is better for hunter happiness and ultimately hunter recruitment.” said Burhans. “We thank Sen. Dan Laughlin for advocating this change, which will completely modernize the process for issuing antlerless licenses.”

One of the talking points over the weekend was Wildlife Management Unit 2H. This unit, which had been spun off from neighboring Wildlife Management Unit 2G a decade ago, could be relocated to WMU 2G for the 2023-24 license year beginning in July.

The Board of Commissioners has provisionally approved a measure to dissolve WMU 2H. Initially, the decision to create WMU 2H was to accommodate the habitat differences between this area and the larger WMU 2G.

Recently, Wildlife Commission staff determined that WMU 2H is too small to effectively collect adequate wildlife and hunter data for large game species and remains similar to WMU 2G in relation to deer hunting and forest management.

A final vote on this proposal is scheduled for April and, if accepted, would take effect for the 2023-24 licensing year beginning in July.

The Board also discussed new processing options for hunters targeting deer in chronic wasting (CWD) areas. Soon, these hunters could have more choices in more places to take their deer to for processing or taxidermy.

The Board tentatively approved a measure that updates the requirements for deer hunters in the CWD Disease Management Areas (DMAs) or Established Area (EA) and for those who hunt deer or other out-of-state deer.

Currently, hunters are not permitted to remove parts of high-risk deer, including the head and spine, from DMA or EMA. A hunter must either take the deer to an approved processor or taxidermist associated with that DMA or EA after it has been harvested in those areas, or remove the high-risk parts before sharing the meat, antlers and other parts with transported to another location with little risk.

Out-of-state hunters are prohibited from bringing high-risk deer parts back into Pennsylvania.

These safeguards are intended to help limit the human-assisted spread of CWD within the Commonwealth. The provisionally approved measure enhances this protection and removes unnecessary complexity, giving hunters more choices.

This proposal would result in the Wildlife Commission creating a nationwide list of collaborating processors and taxidermists; Hunters can bring their harvested deer directly to a cooperating processor or taxidermist anywhere in the state, whether harvesting within a DMA, EA or out of state.

In addition to creating the statewide list and authorizing those on the list to accept high-risk deer parts from outside of the state, the proposal prohibits the placement of high-risk deer parts from deer imported outside of Pa. or within a DMA or were killed in the countryside EA.

Currently, a hunter harvesting within a DMA or EA must choose a processor or taxidermist within or near that area. For a hunter living elsewhere, that could mean traveling back to collect their meat or mount. The proposal would eliminate this and they could probably settle their deer somewhere closer to home.

This proposal will be brought back to the April meeting for possible adoption.

In addition, the Board also offered assistance in developing regulation of Cervid urine products.

Much is still unknown about CWD, but it certainly poses a threat to the deer and elk that call Pennsylvania home, as well as to the hunting traditions here.

The commissioners passed a resolution supporting the development of regulations that would govern the collection, testing, manufacture and distribution of cervid urine or biological products. The aim of this resolution is to ensure that no CWD-infected products are spread across the landscape.

Other suggestions and considerations discussed during the meeting:

— Otter trawlers in the 2023-24 license year have 48 hours to report their harvests — the same amount of time that fisherman and bobcat harvests must be reported. Since 2015-16, otter catchers must report them to the wildlife commission within 24 hours. This will remain the same for this year’s otter fishing season, but in 2023-24 the reporting period will be changed to accommodate the fisherman and bobcat harvest. The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners unanimously approved the change. In addition, the board passed a measure that removes the size restrictions on otter body grab traps. Previously, body grab traps with a span greater than 6.5 inches by 6.5 inches were banned, except for beavers. The change would also allow them for otters.

— The board tentatively approved a measure that would allow legitimate falconers to harvest fur-bearing animals such as mink, muskrats, foxes, possums, raccoons, striped skunks and weasels. These additions are also reflected in the 2023-24 falconry seasons and catch limits. The measure will be brought back for a final vote in April.

— The scientific names of three bird species could be changed to conform with currently accepted taxonomic nomenclature. The yellow-crowned night heron, sedge wren, and northern harrier all have changes in their scientific names. All three birds are in Pa. classified as either threatened or vulnerable, and while these changes do not affect the protection, management, or common names of these species, the lists of Pa. consistent with amendments adopted elsewhere.

— Technological advances have increased the horsepower of some electric boat engines, resulting in limited operating speeds for boats operating in state wildlife areas. The Board enacted regulations limiting the speed of all boats on open white waterways on land “slow, no trace” Speed. They must operate at the lowest possible speed to maintain maneuverability and minimal wake on the water surface.

— The board gave tentative approval to amended regulations that would allow menageries to allow additional species of animals to have human contact. Currently, only a few species of animals that are considered wild animals can be shown in this way. The changes would place wild animals in one of three categories, which could allow separate rules to apply if and when they are allowed to be removed from cages and have contact with the public.

— The Gaming Commission also approved the purchase of several properties across the Commonwealth. The acquisitions approved at this meeting will add approximately 1,889 acres to the state’s wildlife areas. With Game Fund funding, the commission acquired 57 acres in Boggs and Spring townships, Center County, adjacent to State Game Lands 323.

During its April 15, 2023 meeting, the board will vote on final season dates, including those for firearms stag season.

Today’s breaking news and more in your inbox