Board also strengthens public hunting requirement in deer-control permits.
HARRISBURG, PA – The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to allow mourning dove hunting in managed dove fields, areas where grain or other agricultural or natural food has been scattered where it’s grown. Food or grain not naturally grown on the site cannot be added to managed fields.
Grain can be manipulated in managed fields until Sept. 15 through mowing, shredding, discing, rolling, chopping, trampling, flattening, burning or herbicide treatments.
CREATING CLARITY FOR DEER CONTROL PERMITS
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave preliminary approval to a measure that will strengthen the “public hunting” component for deer-control permits the Game Commission issues for deer problems on private and public properties, often within suburban and urban areas.
The goal of this permit revision is to improve the use and prominence of public hunting without unduly restricting the effectiveness of a deer-control permit.
Permit criteria always had stipulated that lawful hunting be allowed on public lands seeking deer-control permits, unless waived by the agency’s executive director. Often applicants established organized control hunts, while others have organized or invited hunting clubs to help reduce deer numbers. Still others invited only local government employees to engage in hunting on the permitted properties.
Public hunting now will be further defined under revised permitting regulations as hunting available to the general public, but “shall not include hunting opportunity that is afforded to an individual, or class of individuals, solely by virtue of their public employment.”
Through these amendments, the agency intends to strengthen its permitting to engage public hunting to alleviate excessive deer populations. In the process, this opens the door for more opportunities for Pennsylvania deer hunters in places with sizeable deer problems.
GUIDING PERMIT EXPANSION
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave preliminary approval to expand its guide permit program to cover all commercial guiding activities on state game lands and all commercial and noncommercial elk guiding.
The expansion is intended to provide greater legitimacy to guide permit holders by establishing minimum standards for a required knowledge-base to be a guide. An examination measuring an applicant’s knowledge of basic biology and identification of applicable game and wildlife; safe and ethical use of firearms, traps and other devices; federal and state laws pertaining to hunting and trapping; basic land navigation; and basic first aid and CPR skills, will be part of the application process.
Commercial guiding will be considered any guiding activity provided by any person to another person for a fee, remuneration, or other economic gain, including bartered goods or services. There will be an exemption for leashed-tracking dog services to recover elk, black bear and white-tailed deer.
Eligible categories for guide permits are big game, small game and furbearers.
Application for guiding permits would made through the Game Commission’s Special Permit Enforcement Division. Applicants must possess a hunting or furtaking license and have no record of Game and Wildlife Code violations or license revocation for at least 10 years.
The guide application and testing fee is $50. The commercial guide permit fee will be $100 for each applicable category for which certification is required, noncommercial elk guide permits, $25. Permits must be renewed annually.
All guides shall maintain field records for all guiding activities, which must be reported annually to the Game Commission.
HAWK MOUNTAIN DONATES 77 ACRES TO GAME LANDS
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today approved a donation of 77 acres from Hawk Mountain Sanctuary that adjoins State Game Lands 106 in Albany Township, Berks County.
Money for the acquisition came through grant funding available for migratory bird habitat conservation through the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co., LLC, in connection with the construction and operation of the Atlantic Sunrise Natural Gas Pipeline Project. The Game Commission worked through a partnership including Hawk Mountain and Berks Nature to develop and submit a grant proposal titled, “Kittatinny Bird Habitat Expansion.”
The acquired property, known as the James K. Newell Living Trust Tract, has 58 acres of continuous agricultural field with woods at the margins and forested wetlands to the south of Hawk Mountain Road, which provides access to the property. Three Pine Creek tributaries flow through the property along the western and southern forested margins.
THE CONSERVATION FUND HELPS ACQUIRE 752 ACRES OF GAME LANDS
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today approved the acquisition of 752.5 acres in Colley Township, Sullivan County, from The Conservation Fund.
Purchased for a $200,000 lump sum generated from third-party commitments for compensation of habitat and recreational losses on state game lands from previously approved projects, the tract adjoins State Game Lands 13. The option price includes 25 percent of subsurface oil and gas rights.
Purchased by The Conservation Fund with funds from the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC, for voluntary mitigation designed to restore and preserve upland forest habitats for migratory birds and Indiana bats associated with construction and operation of the Atlantic Sunrise Natural Gas Pipeline, the property is mostly forested with limited understory; more than half is northern hardwoods, while the remainder is covered in hemlock/white pine and hemlock/mixed hardwood forest. Mehoopany Creek flows through the southern portion of the tract with a series of wetlands located in low drainages along a riparian corridor.
In addition, the property, which can be accessed from Route 487, is located within Important Bird Area 48, North Mountain–Ricketts Glen State Park, and Important Mammal Area 28, Ricketts Glen State Park.
BOARD APPROVES LAND EXCHANGE
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners approved the acquisition of 70 acres in Eldred Township, Monroe County, in exchange for issuing a right-of-way license that allows PennEast to construct, operate, maintain and remove a natural gas pipeline on State Game Lands 168 in Eldred and Moore townships, Monroe and Northampton counties. PennEast also has agreed to convey the 70 acres in addition to paying the Commission’s standard annual license fee and standard habitat, surface and timber damages.
The right-of-way license authorizes 7,956 feet of 36-inch natural gas pipeline in a 30-foot wide right-of-way occupying 5.48 acres of SGL 168.
The 70-acre tract is adjacent to SGL 168 and will provide much-need public and administrative access to game lands on the Blue Mountain’s north slope. The tract is predominantly mature hemlock forest interspersed with oak and reverting herbaceous openings along the floodplain of Aquashicola Creek.
BOARD APPROVES ENERGY AGREEMENT
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners approved a five-year, non-surface-use agreement with Repsol Oil and Gas USA, LLC, to develop natural gas under 25.65 acres of State Game Lands 268 in Liberty Township, Tioga County.
The energy-development agreement is expected to result in an approximate $51,300 bonus payment to the agency’s Game Fund, or into an interest-bearing escrow account to be used for the future purchase of wildlife habitat.
Oil and gas development under the agreement will be regulated by the Commonwealth’s oil and gas regulations and the agency’s Standard Non-Surface Use Oil and Gas Cooperative Agreement.
IN OTHER ACTION, THE BOARD:
- Gave preliminary approval to list the Hungarian partridge, currently a game bird without sustainable wild populations anywhere in Pennsylvania, as a wild bird to allow the release of lawfully acquired Hungarian partridges for dog-training or hunting.
- Clarified through a notational vote that the antlerless deer license allocation for Wildlife Management Area 2E is 27,000, not 23,000. It was incorrectly read as 23,000 at the Board’s April 24, 2018 meeting.
- Announced the next Board Working Group Meeting will be Aug. 27 at the agency’s Harrisburg Headquarters.
- Announced the next Board of Game Commissioners meeting will be held Sept. 24 and 25 at Seven Springs Resort in Somerset County.