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Board Takes Steps to Protect Wildlife; Agency to Gather Data on Mentored Youth Hunting Program; Board Takes Action to Increase State Game Lands System; Board Takes Other Actions

April 21, 2009

HARRISBURG, Pa., April 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to a regulatory change that establishes replacement costs that may be assessed on those convicted of illegally killing certain wildlife in Pennsylvania.

Under the new regulation, a judge will be able to assess anyone convicted of illegally killing the following wildlife a replacement cost of: $5,000 for any endangered or threatened species; $1,500 for an elk or bear; $800 for a deer; $500 for a bobcat or river otter; $300 for a wild turkey or beaver; and $200 for any other wildlife.

Additionally, if the big game animal were a “trophy class animal,” judges will be able to require a replacement cost of $5,000 for an elk with a minimum Boone & Crockett Club green score of 200 points; a deer with a minimum Boone & Crockett Club green score of 115; or a bear with a field-dressed weight of more than 350 pounds.

“These replacement costs are on top of those fines and penalties already specified in the Game and Wildlife Code, which may only be changed by the state Legislature,” said Rich Palmer, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Protection director. “In addition to this action by the Board, we are asking the General Assembly to pass House Bill 97, sponsored by Rep. Ed Staback (D-Lackawanna), who chairs the House Game and Fisheries Committee, which would increase the fines and penalties for poaching.”

Palmer noted that increasing penalties for serious violations is one of the operational objectives in the Game Commission’s Strategic Plan.

For more information on the Game Commission’s previous testimony on legislation to increase fines and penalties, see News Release #015-08 in the “News Release” archives on the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us).

AGENCY TO GATHER DATA ON MENTORED YOUTH HUNTING PROGRAM

The Mentored Youth Hunting Program, first implemented by the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners in 2006, will continue for the 2009-10 seasons and, thanks to the agency’s launch of its electronic license sale system, data about the level of participation in the program can now be gathered.

Beginning June 15, the Game Commission will fully implement its electronic license sale system, commonly referred to as Pennsylvania Automated License System (PALS).

For 2009-10, the list of eligible game for those youth under the age of 12 participating in the Mentored Youth Hunting Program is squirrel, woodchuck (groundhog), coyote, spring gobbler and antlered deer. Mentored youth can participate in both the junior-only seasons for squirrels and spring gobbler, as well as the general seasons for all five species.

New this year, however, is the requirement that youth participating in the program will need to first obtain a permit. The permit, which can be obtained from any issuing agent, will include official big game tags for antlered deer and spring gobblers. The permit will cost $1, which goes to the Game Commission, plus any issuing agent or vendor fees.

“When we first started the MYHP, we didn’t require a permit because there was no method available to issue a permit without creating an enormous obstacle for participants,” said Carl G. Roe, agency executive director. “With the full roll-out of our electronic license sale system this coming license year, we can provide a method for adult mentors to enable youth to obtain a permit without too many difficulties.

“By implementing the permit for the MYHP, we will be able to start gathering data about the level of participation in this program, which can be used to assist in better planning and scheduling our basic Hunter-Trapper Education courses. This database of MYHP participants will let us know how many young hunters are approaching 11 years of age, and where they live, so that we can make sure the number of courses we are offering will meet the expected demand.”

Roe noted that adult mentors, who must be at least 21 years of age, only need to possess a valid hunting license. Also, the participating youth will only need one permit, regardless of who serves as mentor.

Currently, the agency has used its annual Game-Take Survey to estimate the level of participation in the MYHP. According to the agency’s annual Game-Take Surveys, participation in the MYHP has increased in terms of adult mentors and youths. In 2006, the first year of the program, 43,780 youths were mentored by 32,913 adults. That year, the mentored youths harvested 52,788 squirrels and 36,351 woodchucks. In 2007, the number of mentored youth grew to 58,883, and there were 51,141 adult mentors. That year, mentored youths harvested 61,160 squirrels, 52,114 groundhogs, 5,199 antlered deer and 3,496 spring gobblers.

Youths participating in the Mentored Youth Hunting Program are required to follow the same antler restrictions as a junior license holder, which is two or more points on one antler or one antler three or more inches in length. Mentored youth may only pursue antlered deer, and may participate only in seasons in which antlered deer are legal, and must follow appropriate sporting arm restrictions.

The program also requires that both the mentor and the youth abide by any fluorescent orange regulations, and that the mentored youth must tag and report any antlered deer or wild turkey taken. Mentored youth also must follow the sporting arm restrictions for the season they are participating in, as well. For example, if the mentor and mentored youth are participating in the late flintlock season for antlered deer, they must use a flintlock muzzleloader.

Under the program, a mentor is defined as a properly licensed individual at least 21 years of age, who serves as a guide to a mentored youth while engaged in hunting or related activities, such as scouting, learning firearm and hunter safety and wildlife identification. A mentored youth is defined as an unlicensed individual less than 12 years of age who is accompanied by a mentor while engaged in hunting or related activities.

The mentor to mentored youth ratio may not exceed one mentor to one youth, and the pair may possess only one sporting arm while hunting. While moving, the sporting arm must be carried by the mentor. When the pair reaches a stationary hunting location, the mentor may turn over possession of the sporting arm to the youth and must keep the youth within arm’s length at all times.

At its meeting on Jan. 27, the Board gave final adoption to a series of changes needed to other sections of the regulations to make way for the PALS system.

BOARD TAKES ACTION TO INCREASE STATE GAME LANDS SYSTEM

The Board of Game Commissioners today approved the purchase of two tracts that will adjoin State Game Lands in Elk and Northampton counties.

The first tract is 37.5 acres in Fox Township, Elk County, an interior holding of State Game Lands 44. The price of $30,600 is being paid with monies derived from a previously-approved oil/gas lease on SGL 75 in Lycoming County with Chesapeake Appalachia LLC, of Charleston, West Virginia. The current property owner will retain all coal, oil and gas rights to this parcel, which is a reclaimed strip mine that is predominantly grassland interspersed by black locust trees. A township road borders the eastern side of the property and will provide excellent access to SGL 44.

The second offering was three tracts totaling 12 acres in Bushkill Township, Northampton County, that adjoin SGL 168. The land was offered to the Game Commission by the Wildlands Conservancy, of Emmaus. The price of $12,000 is being paid with monies derived from a previously-approved coal lease with Ladner Inc., of Hummelstown, for a mining lease on SGL 264 in Dauphin County. The wooded tracts are on the southern slope of Blue Mountain, contain a headwater stream of Bushkill Creek and help fill an indenture holding within SGL 168.

In other action, the Board of Game Commissioners approved a land exchange with the Northern Tier Solid Waste Authority, of Burlington, that will convey two tracts – 53.9 and 23.4 acres – in Burlington Township, Bradford County, to the Game Commission in exchange for 26.1 acres of SGL 289 in the same municipality. As part of the exchange, the Game Commission agreed to the relocation of Township Road T-357 – located north of the old red pine plantation tract it swapped – to realign the road. The two tracts being conveyed to the agency are mixed hardwoods interspersed with conifers. The larger of the two has about 10 acres of reverting hayfield. The smaller is an indenture holding, and Mill Creek flows through its southwest corner.

The Northern Tier Solid Waste Authority also has entered into an agreement with the Game Commission to transfer an additional 35-acre tract adjoining SGL 289 in Burlington Township, Bradford County. The transfer of this parcel was contingent on settlement of the aforementioned exchange. NTSWA has retained the right to remove topsoil from this parcel now and in the future; the Game Commission has asked that if topsoil is removed, the land is converted into a wetland, which the agency would help design, and offer manpower and equipment to build. The lower sections of this tillable agricultural land floods seasonally. It also contains a narrow wooded riparian corridor.

Also, this exchange is contingent upon approval of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the National Park Service, because the 26.1 acres of SGL 289 was acquired in part with funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act.

BOARD TAKES OTHER ACTIONS

In other action, the Board of Game Commissioners today:

  • Gave approval to providing landowners with contact information (name, address and phone number) for hunters using DMAP antlerless deer permits on their properties. Information that will not be provided to landowners includes Social Security numbers, date of birth or any financial-related data;
  • Gave preliminary approval to a regulatory change to specifically prohibit the use or possession of drug paraphernalia on State Game Lands. Current regulatory provisions clearly prohibit the use and possession of controlled substances on State Game Lands;
  • Gave preliminary approval to a regulatory change to remove the one-way travel limitation for those who possess a disabled person permit to use a vehicle as a blind as it relates to travel permitted on designated State Game Lands’ roads and replace it with an open travel allowance that is subject to further limitation based upon existing weather or road conditions;
  • Gave preliminary approval to a regulatory change to permit persons who have previously hunted a controlled goose hunting area at the Game Commission’s Pymatuning or Middle Creek wildlife management areas to make application for unclaimed blinds on the morning of the designated shooting day, but only when there exists an absence of applications for the unclaimed blinds from persons who have not previously hunted a controlled goose hunting area;
  • Gave preliminary approval to a regulatory change to consolidate and make technical changes to the current provisions overseeing the issuance of guide permits for elk or bobcat. As part of the proposed change, permit fees for those seeking to guide elk hunters or bobcat hunters or trappers would increase to $25 for residents and $50 for nonresidents;
  • Gave preliminary approval to a series of technical changes to expand the agency’s ability to issue permits for the disposition of various wildlife killed on the highway, mistake kills, animals killed for crop damage, illegal kills to Pennsylvania citizens;
  • Gave approval to a land dispute settlement involving 35.53 acres of State Game Land 44 in Horton Township, Elk County; and
  • Re-confirmed the remaining 2009 quarterly meetings will be held July 8-9, in the auditorium of the agency’s Harrisburg headquarters, 2001 Elmerton Ave.; and on Oct. 5-6, in Philadelphia, at a site to be determined later. Also, the January 2010 meeting has been set for Jan. 24, 25 and 26, and will be held at the agency’s Harrisburg headquarters.

Note to Editors: If you would like to receive Game Commission news releases via e-mail, please send a note with your name, address, telephone number and the name of the organization you represent to: PGCNews@state.pa.us

    For Information Contact:
    Jerry Feaser
    717-705-6541
    PGCNews@state.pa.us

SOURCE Pennsylvania Game Commission


Source: newswire



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