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PGC gives preliminary approval for 2020-21 hunting/trapping seasons

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners gave preliminary approval on Jan. 25 to hunting and trapping seasons and bag limits for the 2020-21 license year.

Modifications proposed for the 2020-21 seasons include: expanding Sunday hunting opportunities on three days – Sunday, Nov. 15, for archery deer hunting, Sunday, Nov. 22, for bear hunting during the bear firearms season, and Sunday, Nov. 29, for deer hunting during the firearms deer season; allowing concurrent hunting of antlered and antlerless deer statewide for the duration of the 14-day firearms deer season; shifting the statewide general bear season to run from Saturday through Tuesday; bringing back a three-day Thanksgiving turkey season, running Wednesday through Friday, in many Wildlife Management Units (WMUs); adding a week to the archery bear season, creating an overlap in the first week with the muzzleloader deer and bear seasons; opening squirrel season statewide on Sept. 12; permitting either-sex pheasant hunting statewide, outside of Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas; shortening the length of the fall turkey season by one week in WMUs 4D and 4E in response to declining local turkey populations; opening bobcat hunting and trapping seasons in WMU 2B; opening river otter trapping seasons in WMUs 1A, 1B and 2F; increasing the season bag limit for beavers from 40 to 60 in WMUs 1A and 1B in response to nuisance complaints; and eliminating the extended elk season held outside the Elk Management Area given that no elk ever have been harvested in this season.

The public may offer comments on all proposed 2020-21 seasons and bag limits, as well as other board actions, between now and the board’s next quarterly meeting, when 2020-21 seasons and bag limits will be finalized, and antlerless deer license allocations will be determined.

The board’s next quarterly meeting is scheduled to be held April 6 and 7 at the Game Commission’s Harrisburg headquarters.

Following are several articles on meeting highlights.

CONCURRENT FIREARMS DEER SEASONS UP FOR APPROVAL

The Board of Game Commissioners preliminarily approved a slate of deer seasons for the 2020-21 license year that would allow concurrent hunting for antlered and antlerless deer through the duration of the firearms deer season.

The season is proposed to open on Saturday, Nov. 28. Deer hunting also would be allowed on Sunday, Nov. 29. This would be the only Sunday during firearms deer season when deer hunting is permitted. The season would close on Saturday, Dec. 12.

The board retained the antler restrictions that have been in place for adult and senior license holders since the 2011-12 seasons. It remains the “three-up” on one side, not counting a brow tine, provision for the western Wildlife Management Units of 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B and 2D, and the three points on one side in all other WMUs. Those exempt from these antler restrictions are mentored youth hunters, junior license holders, disabled hunters with a permit to use a vehicle as a blind and resident active-duty military on leave.

All preliminarily approved seasons and bag limits will be brought back to the April meeting for a final vote.

FALL TURKEY SEASON CHANGES MOVE FORWARD

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners gave preliminary approval to fall turkey seasons for 2020 and spring gobbler dates for 2021.

All recommendations on fall turkey season length are made in accordance with guidelines in the Game Commission’s Wild Turkey Management Plan.

With final approval at the board’s next quarterly meeting, the fall season in WMUs 1A, 2A, 4A, 4B, 4D and 4E would be one week (Oct. 31-Nov. 7), plus a three-day Thanksgiving season (Nov. 25-27).

In WMU 1B, the season would remain one week (Oct. 31-Nov. 7), with no Thanksgiving season.

In WMU 2B (shotgun and bow only) and WMU 2C, the season would run Oct. 31-Nov. 20 and Nov. 25-27.

In WMUs 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D and 4C, the season would be Oct. 31-Nov. 14 and Nov. 25-27.

In WMU 5A, the season would be from Nov. 5-7.

In WMU 5B, the season would be from Nov. 3-5.

And in WMUs 5C and 5D, the season would remain closed for the fall seasons.

For the 2021 spring gobbler season, which is proposed to run from May 1-31, the board continued with legal hunting hours to reflect the following: from May 1-May 15, legal shooting hours will be one-half hour before sunrise until noon; and from May 17-31, hunters may hunt all day, from one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.

The board proposed holding the one-day Spring Gobbler Youth Hunt on April 24, 2021, which will run from one-half hour before sunrise until noon. All junior license holders and Mentored Youth Hunting Program permit holders can participate in this special half-day hunt, as well as the other spring season dates.

PROPOSED 2020-21 HUNTING SEASONS AND BAG LIMITS

SQUIRRELS, Red, Gray, Black and Fox (Combined): Special season for eligible junior hunters, with or without required license, and mentored youth – Sept. 12-26 (6 daily, 18 in possession limit after first day).

SQUIRRELS, Red, Gray, Black and Fox (Combined): Sept. 12-Nov. 27; Dec. 14-24 and Dec. 26-Feb. 27 (6 daily, 18 possession).

RUFFED GROUSE: Oct. 17-Nov. 27 and Dec. 14-24 (2 daily, 6 possession).

RABBIT (Cottontail) Special season for eligible junior hunters, with or without required license: Oct. 3-Oct. 17 (4 daily, 12 possession).

RABBIT (Cottontail): Oct. 17-Nov. 27, Dec. 14-24 and Dec. 26-Feb. 27 (4 daily, 12 possession).

PHEASANT: Special season for eligible junior hunters, with or without required license – Oct. 10-17 (2 daily, 6 in possession). Male and female pheasants may be taken in all WMUs. There is no open season for taking pheasants in Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas, except within the Central Susquehanna Wild Pheasant Recovery Area, as authorized by executive order.

PHEASANT: Oct. 24-Nov. 27, Dec. 14-24 and Dec. 26-Feb. 27 (2 daily, 6 in possession). Male and female pheasants may be taken in all WMUs. There is no open season for taking pheasants in Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas, except within the Central Susquehanna Wild Pheasant Recovery Area, as authorized by executive order.

BOBWHITE QUAIL: Oct. 17-Nov. 27, Dec. 14-24 and Dec. 26-Feb. 27 (8 daily, 24 possession).

HARES (SNOWSHOE RABBITS) OR VARYING HARES: Dec. 26-Jan. 1, in all WMUs (1 daily, 3 possession).

WOODCHUCKS (GROUNDHOGS): No closed season, except on Sundays and during the regular firearms deer seasons. No limit.

CROWS: July 3-April 11, 2021, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday only. No limit.

STARLINGS AND ENGLISH SPARROWS: No closed season, except during the antlered and antlerless deer season. No limit.

WILD TURKEY (Male or Female): WMU 1B – Oct. 31-Nov. 7; WMU 2B (Shotgun and bow and arrow only) and WMU 2C – Oct. 31-Nov. 20 and Nov. 25-27; WMUs 1A, 2A, 4A, 4B, 4D and 4E – Oct. 31-Nov. 7 and Nov. 25-27; WMUs 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D and 4C- Oct. 31-Nov. 14 and Nov. 25-27; WMU 5A – Nov. 5-7; WMU 5B – Nov. 3-5; WMUs 5C and 5D – CLOSED TO FALL TURKEY HUNTING.

SPRING GOBBLER (Bearded bird only): Special season for eligible junior hunters, with required license, and mentored youth – April 24, 2021. Only 1 spring gobbler may be taken during this hunt.

SPRING GOBBLER (Bearded bird only): May 1-May 31, 2021. Daily limit 1, season limit 2. (Second spring gobbler may be only taken by persons who possess a valid special wild turkey license.) From May 1-15, legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until noon; from May 17-31, legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.

BLACK BEAR, ARCHERY (WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D): Sept. 19-Nov. 27. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR, ARCHERY (WMU 5B): Oct. 3-Nov. 14. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR, ARCHERY (Statewide): Oct. 17-31. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR, MUZZLELOADER (Statewide): Oct. 17-24. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR, SPECIAL FIREARMS (Statewide): Oct. 22-24, Junior and Senior License Holders, Disabled Person Permit (to use a vehicle) Holders, and Pennsylvania residents serving on active duty in U.S. Armed Services or in the U.S. Coast Guard only. Also included are persons who have reached or will reach their 65th birthday in the year of the application for a license and hold a valid adult license, or qualify for license and fee exemptions under section 2706. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR (Statewide): Nov. 21, Nov. 22 and Nov. 23-24. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR (WMUs 1B, 2C, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 5A): Nov. 28-Dec. 5. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR (WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D): Nov. 28-Dec. 12. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

ELK, ARCHERY: Sept. 12-26.

ELK (Antlered or Antlerless): Nov. 2-7. Only one elk may be taken during the license year.

ELK, LATE (Antlerless only): Jan. 2-9, 2021

DEER, ARCHERY (Antlered and Antlerless) WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D: Sept. 19-Nov. 14, Nov. 15, Nov. 16-27 and Dec. 26-Jan. 23, 2021. One antlerless deer with each required antlerless license. One antlered deer per hunting license year.

DEER, ARCHERY (Antlered and Antlerless) Statewide: Oct. 3-Nov. 14, Nov. 15 and Dec. 26-Jan. 18, 2021. One antlered deer per hunting license year. One antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

DEER (Antlered and Antlerless) Statewide: Nov. 28, Nov. 29. Nov. 30-Dec. 12. One antlered deer per hunting license year. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

DEER, ANTLERLESS SPECIAL FIREARMS (Statewide): Oct. 22-24. Junior and Senior License Holders, Mentored Youth Permit Holders, Disabled Person Permit (to use a vehicle) Holders, and Pennsylvania residents serving on active duty in U.S. Armed Services or in the U.S. Coast Guard only, with required antlerless license. Also included are persons who have reached or will reach their 65th birthday in the year of the application for a license and hold a valid adult license, or qualify for license and fee exemptions under section 2706. One antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

DEER, ANTLERLESS MUZZLELOADER (Statewide): Oct. 17-24. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

DEER, ANTLERED OR ANTLERLESS FLINTLOCK (Statewide): Dec. 26-Jan. 18, 2021. One antlered deer per hunting license year, or one antlerless deer and an additional antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

DEER, ANTLERED OR ANTLERLESS FLINTLOCK (WMUs 2B, 5C, 5D): Dec. 26-Jan. 23, 2021. One antlered deer per hunting license year, or one antlerless deer and an additional antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

DEER, ANTLERLESS EXTENDED REGULAR FIREARMS: (Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties): Dec. 26-Jan. 23. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

DEER, ANTLERLESS (Military Bases): Hunting permitted on days established by the U.S. Department of the Army at Letterkenny Army Depot, Franklin County; New Cumberland Army Depot, York County; and Fort Detrick, Raven Rock Site, Adams County. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

PROPOSED 2020-21 FURBEARER HUNTING SEASONS

COYOTES: No closed season. Unlimited. Outside of any big game season (deer, bear, elk and turkey), coyotes may be taken with a hunting license or a furtaker license, and without wearing orange. During any big game season, coyotes may be taken while lawfully hunting big game or with a furtaker license.

RACCOONS and FOXES: Oct. 24-Feb. 20, unlimited.

OPOSSUM, STRIPED SKUNKS and WEASELS: No closed season, except Sundays. No limits.

BOBCAT (WMUs 2A, 2B, 2C, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E): Jan. 9-Feb. 3. One bobcat per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.

PORCUPINES: Oct. 10-Jan. 30, 2021. (3 daily, season limit of 10).

PROPOSED 2020-21 TRAPPING SEASONS

MINKS and MUSKRATS: Nov. 21-Jan. 10. Unlimited.

COYOTES, FOXES, OPOSSUMS, RACCOONS, STRIPED SKUNKS and WEASELS: Oct. 25-Feb. 21. No limit.

COYOTES and FOXES, CABLE RESTRAINTS (Statewide): Dec. 26-Feb. 21. No limit. Participants must pass cable restraint certification course.

BEAVERS (Statewide): Dec. 19-March 31 (Limits vary depending on WMU).

BOBCATS (WMUs 2A, 2B 2C, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E): Dec. 19-Jan. 10.

One bobcat per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.

FISHERS (WMUs 1B, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E): Dec. 19-Jan. 3. One fisher per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.

RIVER OTTERS (WMUs 1A, 1B, 2F, 3C and 3D): Feb. 13-20, 2021. One river otter per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.

PROPOSED 2020-21 FALCONRY SEASONS

SQUIRRELS (combined) Sept. 1-March 31, 2021 (6 daily, 18 possession)

BOBWHITE QUAIL Sept. 1-March 31, 2021 (8 daily, 24 possession)

RUFFED GROUSE Sept. 1-March 31, 2021 (2 daily, 6 possession)

COTTONTAIL RABBITS Sept. 1-March 31, 2021 (4 daily, 12 possession)

SNOWSHOE OR VARYING HARES Sept. 1-March 31, 2021 (1 daily, 3 possession)

RINGNECK PHEASANTS (Male or Female combined): Sept. 1-March 31, 2021 (2 daily, 6 possession)

No open season on other wild birds or mammals.

Waterfowl and Migratory Game Bird seasons to be established in accordance with federal regulations at a later date.

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