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Expanded Bear Season
Game Commission Supports Expanded Bear Season, Baiting Deer in some WMUs
Members of the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners have taken two steps to help landowners deal with problems of wildlife damaging crops.
Come the start of hunting season this year, five wildlife management units may see an expansion of bear season.
At their January meeting, Game Commissioners supported allowing hunters in WMU’s 1A, 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D to harvest black bears during all deer seasons from September through early December, along with statewide bear season. Hunters may still take only one bear during the license year.
Those changes must be approved by members of the game commission in April.
“Pennsylvania’s black bear population is larger and more widely distributed than ever, and bear-human incidents are becoming commonplace, especially in more developed areas,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “Continued expansion of residential development into areas occupied by black bears has resulted in more frequent sightings and encounters between people and bears.”
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau has been supportive of an expansion of bear season, noting that some parts of the state have seen a dramatic increase in crop damage.
The areas where those conflicts have been occurring mirror results during the 2011 bear harvest, said Jeff Grove, PFB Local Affairs Director.
“I convey a huge thank you to Commissioners and staff from our members for the action taken to address bear conflicts in many areas across the state. We acknowledge the delicate balance you are attempting to maintain between hunting and sustaining bear populations in some areas,” Grove told commissioners during their January meeting.
In a related move, Game Commissioners voted to expand the use of bait on “Red Tag” farms in Southeast Pennsylvania.
The change in regulation would affect Red Tag farms in WMUs 5C and 5D. If approved in April, hunters on these properties could use bait during any deer season, along with the “Red Tag” season for antlerless deer, which runs from Feb. 1 to May 15 and July 1 to Sept. 28.
Farmers who are enrolled in the Red Tag program are given a specific number of antlerless deer permits, which are red in color. Farmers can then give those permits to hunters to take antlerless deer.