Thursday, January 23, 2014

Have a Say in Pennsylvania's Deer Management Program

The Pennsylvania Game Commission, Board of Commissioners will hold its first quarterly meeting of 2014, from Jan. 26 to 28 at the agency’s Harrisburg headquarters.  On Sunday, Jan. 26, beginning at 1 p.m., the commissioners will hear public recommendations for 2014-15 hunting and furtaking seasons and bag limits. Doors will open at noon. Individuals interested in offering public testimony – limited to five minutes – may register beginning at noon on a first-come, first-to-speak basis.

This is a great opportunity for you to voice your opinion...for or against...current deer management practices in the state.  Your Game Commissioners need to hear from you.  Are you happy with the way things are going?  Do you want to see the program changed in any way?  Well, this is your opportunity.  Public comment is important in forming the seasons and bag limits that are rolled out later in the year.

For more than 20 years a group called the Society of American Foresters (SAF) Deer/Farm/Forests Committee has met to work on deer issues.  This is an "umbrella" organization under which all members of the forestry/wildlife community come together, share observations about how current deer management policies are affecting deer and their impact on forest habitat, and, when necessary, carry that message to the public, scientists, or decision makers with a unified voice.

Over time, the Committee has sponsored national level meetings about the science of deer management, hosted meetings and tours for more local audiences, including Game Commissioners, legislators, funders, and NGOs.  More recently, the activities of the Committee have focused on providing annual testimony to the PGC Seasons and Bag Limits Hearings in Harrisburg.  I wanted to provide some of the main points of this year's letter to my readers.  You may not agree with all the points but the ideas may serve as a foundation for you to craft your own letter to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

SAF Deer/Farm/Forests Committee 2014 Testimony to the 2014 PA Game Commission Season and Bag Limits Meeting, January 26-28, 2014 

1.   Requesting DMAP availability to all landowners statewide.
2.  Support continuation of Concurrent Buck and Doe Firearms Season for the full firearms season with a Saturday opener and Sunday hunting in all WMU’s.
3.  For increased hunter retention and recruitment we recommend a reconsideration of Sunday hunting and Saturday opening day which especially benefits youth and parents with more time afield. 
4.  Fully support maintaining these efforts including: Deer Management Assistance Program, concurrent buck & doe seasons, antler restrictions, early antlerless season, and the youth mentored hunting program.


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