HARRISBURG – As a general rule, hunters want more deer; farmers want fewer deer; and insurance companies want almost no deer.
Added to this equation are differing views within the Pennsylvania Game Commission on how to manage the statewide deer herd. On one side are the PGC biologists conducting the agency's deer-management program; on the other, based upon the voting by the majority of the eight members, is the board of game commissioners.
Dr. Chris Rosenberry, who heads the PGC team for deer and elk management, and his staff support the generally accepted scientific approach of allowing the deer herd to expand only if it is supported by habitat. That was his recommendation to the board at its quarterly meeting in April, but commissioners Tom Boop and Ron Weaner led the opposition to this that resulted in 6-2 votes based on hunter complaints that went against recommendations of the deer-management program in place.
These votes arbitrarily reduced the number of antlerless tags issued in select Wildlife Management Units, capped the number of and Deer Management Assistance Program permits issued and created a five-day reduction of antlerless hunting the first week of the firearms season in four WMUs for the 2010-11 seasons. Available antlerless permits were further reduced in some WMUs because the DMAP permits to be issued were to be deducted from the antlerless allocations.
While the six commissioners supporting these actions did what they perceived to be the popular action, they also included a contingency plan to revisit the matter of DMAP permits at the board's quarterly meeting in June. That plan was used to revise the DMAP allocations in the face of strong opposition on many fronts, especially from the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.
As a result, the board gave approval to issue an additional 2,761 DMAP antlerless deer coupons to private landowners who are not enrolled in any of the agency's public access programs. Had this action not been taken, these private landowners would have had their DMAP applications denied for the 2010-11 seasons.
"We need to support DMAP, but we also need to study it further," Weaner said. "I do, however, fully support issuing additional DMAP permits to private landowners."
DMAP permits fees are $10.70 for resident hunters and $35.70 for nonresident hunters, and each permit can be used for one antlerless deer on the specific DMAP area. Maps for the properties are to be provided to hunters by the landowners, who are not permitted to charge or accept any contribution from a hunter for a DMAP permits or coupon –which will be available for hunters to redeem for antlerless permits Wednesday, Sept. 1.
Hunters may use DMAP permits only for antlerless deer anytime they may be legally hunted, including during the entire statewide two-week firearms deer season, Monday, Nov. 29-Saturday, Dec. 11. They also may be used in WMUs 2C, 2D, 2E, 2G, 3C, 4B, 4D and 4E during the two-week firearms deer season, however, WMU-specific antlerless deer licenses may be used only during the last seven days of the season, beginning Saturday, Dec. 4.
DMAP antlerless permits, which are $10.75 for resident hunters and $35.70 for nonresidents, are now on sale through the PGC's Pennsylvania Automated License System. Hunters may obtain up to two DMAP antlerless deer permits per property, and DMAP permits do not impact a hunter's eligibility to apply for and receive antlerless deer licenses issued for specific WMUs.
Beginning Monday, county treasures may begin accepting by mail antlerless license applications from resident hunters, and nonresident applications beginning Monday, July 26. Resident licenses are $5.70 and nonresident licenses are $26.70, which includes a 70-cent transaction fee attached to the purchase of each license and permit that is paid directly to Automated License Systems, the Nashville-based company that runs PALS.