PA Game Commision - Press Release
Hunting- The Board of Game Commissioners today elected new officers during its annual reorganization for 2005. Commissioner John J. Riley, of Scotrun, Monroe County, was elected Board President. Riley, who was appointed to the Board in 2002, previously served as secretary in 2004.
Commissioner Roxane S. Palone, of Waynesburg, Greene County, was re-elected vice-president. Appointed to the Board in 2000, Palone was first elected vice-president in 2004. She also was elected to serve as board secretary in 2003.
Commissioner Thomas E. Boop, of Sunbury, Northumberland County, was elected secretary. Boop was appointed to the Board in 2003.
Other Commissioners are: Russell E. Schleiden, Centre Hall, Centre County; Stephen L. Mohr, Bainbridge, Lancaster County; and Gregory J. Isabella, Philadelphia. There are two vacancies on the Board.
Commissioners are nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the state Senate to serve an eight-year term.
BOARD APPROVES USE OF CABLE RESTRAINTS
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to a regulatory change providing for the use of specific cable restraint devices by certified licensed furtakers for coyotes and foxes from Jan. 1 until the end of the annually established trapping season. Cable restraints of one form or another are legal in 41 states and all 12 Canadian provinces.
Under the new trapping option, licensed trappers will be required to complete a certification course to use cable restraints, beginning in 2006. The special course program will be developed by the Game Commission's Hunter-Trapper Education Division and offered for a reasonable fee by agency-certified trapper instructors.
All cable restraints must be equipped with at least one swivel device to allow any captured animal to have 360-degree, unobstructed movement around the anchor point to prevent entanglement. The regulation also specifies that cable restraints may not be placed near a fence or other obstruction, such as a bush or exposed root system, that would permit the animal to entangle itself.
Also, all cable restraints will be required to have a "deer stop" installed at eight inches circumference to allow deer to simply step out of the device if accidentally caught. The cable restraint must include a breakaway device that enables animals larger than a fox or coyote to escape.
"After studying reports about the safe and efficient use of cable restraints to capture coyotes and foxes, we believe that Pennsylvania should offer its furtakers the opportunity to use this device to manage these two species in the Commonwealth," said Dr. Matthew Lovallo, Game Commission furbearer biologist. "When used properly, cable restraints have a great track record of holding captured animals without mortalities and with few injuries.
"Since cable restraints hold animals alive, we believe that they can be used in places where other traps pose problems for pets and other animals. And, by limiting the timeframe in which they can be used from Jan. 1 until the end of the trapping seasons in mid-February, we are further reducing potential conflicts with free-roaming dogs and cats."
Lovallo noted that the proposal to allow the use of cable restraints in Pennsylvania is based on data collected during one of the most ambitious research projects in the history of wildlife conservation - the development of Best Management Practices for Trapping in the United States (BMPs).
"These BMP guidelines identify techniques, traps and cable restraints that address the welfare of trapped animals and allow for the efficient, selective, safe and practical capture of furbearers," Lovallo said. "These studies were designed following the science-based field testing protocols used and perfected by the furbearer resources technical work group of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies."
In 2001 and 2002, cable restraints were field-tested by experienced local trappers during legal trapping seasons in Wisconsin and Missouri. Specimens taken in Wisconsin by cable restraints were sent to wildlife veterinary pathologists at the University of Wyoming, who used international trap testing guidelines to examine the animals for trap-related injuries. The performance of cable restraints was rated very high for effectiveness and they were found to be very humane.
"Because of the concerns for safety of hunting dogs and free-roaming dogs and cats, the Game Commission has discussed the legalization of cable restraints with dog owners and dog hunting clubs," Lovallo said. "We believe that those discussions have helped dispel some of the rumors and misconceptions about cable restraints."
The Pennsylvania Trappers Association (PTA) has stepped forward to assist the Game Commission in conducting the special certification classes for those licensed furtakers interested in being permitted to use cable restraints.
"Cable restraints will be another tool in the trappers arsenal to help alleviate problems caused by coyotes and foxes," said Rod Zullinger, PTA president. "Wildlife managers are in full support of the cable restraints and this will certainly open up a new avenue for Pennsylvania trappers."
BOARD TAKES STEP TOWARD ONLINE HARVEST REPORTS
The Board of Game Commissioners today approved a regulatory change that moves the agency one step closer to being able to accept deer and turkey harvest report card information online or through a toll-free telephone system.
"The Game Commission looks forward to being able to offer hunters a more convenient method of reporting deer and turkey harvests maybe as early as the 2005-2006 license year," said Vern Ross, Game Commission Executive Director "However, for the remainder of the 2004-2005 license year, including the upcoming 2005 spring gobbler season, we urge hunters to complete and mail in their harvest report cards within 10 days of their harvest."
"In addition to making it more convenient for hunters to report harvests, we hope to see reporting rates improve. The new process will reduce our costs of having harvest report card data entered, and nearly eliminate the money we spend on postage for the current harvest report card system."
Ross noted that the agency spends about $150,000 annually to cover postage and handling of harvest report cards for deer and turkey.
Ross noted that it took a change in state law to permit the Game Commission to pursue this customer-friendly method of reporting deer and turkey harvests. When the General Assembly re-codified the Game and Wildlife Code in the mid-1980s - long before the Internet was launched - lawmakers required that hunters complete "the report card supplied with the hunting license for reporting big game killed and shall mail the report card" to the agency within 10 days. With advancements in technology, this one word in state law prevented the Game Commission from taking advantage of those advancements.
On Nov. 30, Gov. Rendell signed into law House Bill 2326, sponsored by Rep. Keith Gillespie (R-York). The new law amends the Game and Wildlife Code (Title 34) to enable the Game Commission to establish the method of reporting deer and turkey harvests.
House Bill 2326 passed the House unanimously on April 14, and passed the Senate unanimously on Nov. 19.
Under the Game Commission's Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP), which provides hunters with a permit to harvest an antlerless deer, the agency was able to take advantage of online reporting since it involved reporting the harvest of a deer by using a permit rather than a license. On Oct. 2, the Game Commission began accepting harvest report cards by mail and through the Internet from antlerless deer harvested by use of a DMAP permit.
To file a DMAP antlerless deer permit harvest report online, hunters should go to the Game Commission's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), click on "DMAP" in the "Quick Clicks" box in the upper right hand corner of the homepage, and then click on the underlined portion of the opening paragraph. However, until the new law takes effect and the agency can implement a system for the 2005-2006 license year, only hunters using a DMAP permit will be able to take advantage of this reporting method.
Hunters will need to fill in: their application number, DMAP unit number, coupon number, and birth date; the date of the harvest; the Wildlife Management Unit, county and township of the harvest; and what type of sporting arm they used. DMAP permits only may be used to take antlerless deer, however hunters still will need to identify whether the deer was male or female. Hunters also can report that they did not harvest a deer by checking a box at this site.
Under DMAP, all hunters are required to submit a harvest report card, even if the hunter did not take a deer. This is being done so the Game Commission can measure the effectiveness of the program, which is designed to address specific deer management objectives within the state's new wildlife management units. All reports must be submitted by Feb. 8, 2005.
BOARD TAKES ACTION ON OTHER ITEMS
In other action, the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today also:
- Gave final approval to a regulatory change that would eliminate the need for the Game Commission to issue paper permits to individuals who contact the agency to claim a road-killed deer to make use of the venison. Individual residents still would need to contact the agency within 24 hours of taking possession of the carcass, but the agency would only have to verbally provide the person with a permit number.
- Gave final approval to a measure to make the bobcat application process more convenient for interested furtakers and standardize the procedures for paper and online applications.
- Approved providing data for a sample of hunting license holders and permitted regulated hunting grounds to Penn State University as part of a study on Sunday Hunting for the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee. All names and addresses provided will be used for this survey only and will not be used for other purposes.
- Approved an increase in the per diem rate paid to members of the Taxidermy Examining Board to $250 plus expenses. With the increased number of applicants that the test receives each year, it is necessary to conduct a minimum of two exams each year, which requires taxidermy board members to be away from their normal businesses.
- Announced the next scheduled meeting of the Board will be held April 25-26, in the auditorium of the agency's Harrisburg headquarters, 2001 Elmerton Ave. Other meetings set by the Board, all of which will be held in the agency's headquarters in Harrisburg, are: Oct. 2-4; and Jan. 22-24, 2005. Dates for the June meeting will be announced later.
Source: PA Game Commision
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