If you’re an upland hunter and thrill at the cackle of a ring-necked pheasant flushing from a cornfield, this sensation comes courtesy of the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s expensive pheasant stocking program. If the PGC wouldn’t stock, there would be no long tails to give us that thrill.
As we all know, pheasant hunting is similar to trout fishing. It’s put and take. And that’s after the foxes, Great-Horned owls, Red-Tailed hawks and coyotes get first dibs.
The PGC is doing their best in attempting to re-establish a wild pheasant population in the state. In fact they’ve received permission from a Native American tribe in Montana to trap 300 wild birds and transfer them to Pennsylvania for release on Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas, which number four in the state.
Credit for this also goes to Pheasants Forever for joining the PGC in locating pheasants that will be transferred here. And it’s important to point out that only trapped-and-transferred birds will be introduced into a WPRA because of their chances of survival in the wild when compared to propagated birds.
There is no open season for shooting pheasants, or training dogs, in any of the Wild Pheasant Recovery Area’s that were established in 2007. The areas include Franklin County WPRA, Central Susquehanna WPRA, the Somerset WPRA and Hegins-Gratz WPRA.
To date, wild pheasants have been introduced into three of the four WPRA’s with Franklin County the only WPRA that did not receive pheasants. But with this newfound resource, Franklin County WPRA appears to have a greater chance of getting its first birds.
In a recent presentation to PGC commissioners, the Bureau of Wildlife Management indicated hen pheasant densities in all WPRAs that have received wild birds, are approaching or exceeding target levels.
In the past, the PGC has been receiving pheasants from the Dakota’s, but that has ceased since those states are experiencing lower numbers due to several factors. The only question is, where will these wild birds be stocked locally once their take hold elsewhere? With suburban sprawl and warehouses eating up all the once decent pheasant habitat land in our area, there are few places, save for the game lands and farm-game co-ops, to stock these birds. The PGCs newest effort is noble but without the land for the wild pheasants to survive, these pheasants have slim chances of survival within this concrete jungle.
MENTORED ADULT HUNTING PROGRAM
In an effort to get adults interested in hunting, the PGC has given preliminary approval to start a mentor-based adult program for first-time hunters 18 years or older. The program will be patterned after the Youth Mentored Hunting Program for children under 12.
The Adult program will allow adults to purchase a permit for no more than three consecutive license years. At the end of which, the adult would have to take a basic Hunter-Trapper Education course and purchase an adult hunting license. The difference in cost, however, is minuscule as the resident mentored adult permit is expected to cost $19.70 for a resident while an adult general license costs $20.70.
Mentored adults would only be able to hunt squirrels, rabbits, pheasants, quail, hares porcupines, woodchucks, crows, coyotes, antlerless deer and wild turkeys. And they would be required to be within eyesight of their adult mentor and close enough to be given verbal instructions and guidance. The program will be up for final approval at the PGCs April meeting.
LARGER BROADHEADS PROPOSED
Bowhunters may be happy to learn that the PGC will vote on final approval to expand the size of broadheads on their arrows.
Up to now, only three-inch broadheads were legal to use for hunting. When final approval is voted on, the new size goes up to 3.5 inches.
According to the PGC, the increase will not have a negative effect on wildlife and will accommodate certain handmade and commercially available products.
BAITING APPROVED FOR S.E. SPECIAL REGS AREA
The PGC gave specific approval to create a permit that will allow private-property owners in southeastern Pennsylvania’s special regulations area, to use bait while deer hunting.
Baiting is already allowed in these special reg properties enrolled in the “Deer Depredation” Program (aka Red Tag program), however this new permit is limited to shelled corn and protein pellet supplements that don’t exceed five gallons per site and distributed through automatic mechanical feeders that dispense up to three times a day during legal hunting hours.
There is no cost for the permit but one has to be obtained from the PGC regional office in Reading. The provision takes effect in July.
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