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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 03-1177



[58 PA. CODE CHS. 139 AND 141]

Seasons and Bag Limits; Hunting and Trapping

[33 Pa.B. 2878]

   To effectively manage the wildlife resources of this Commonwealth, the Game Commission (Commission), at its April 8, 2003, meeting, adopted the following amendments:

   Amend §§ 139.2, 141.45 and 141.62 (relating to definitions; turkey; and beaver trapping), add § 139.17 (relating to wildlife management units) and delete §§ 141.21, 141.46 and 141.64 (relating to hen ringneck pheasant; turkey management areas; and furbearer management areas) to implement a uniform wildlife management unit (WMU) system.

   The final-form rulemaking will have no adverse impact on the wildlife resources of this Commonwealth.

   The authority for the final rulemaking is 34 Pa.C.S. (relating to Game and Wildlife Code) (code).

   Notice of proposed rulemaking was published at 33 Pa.B. 1103 (March 1, 2003).

1.  Introduction

   The Commission amended §§ 139.2, 141.45 and 141.62, added § 139.17 and reserved §§ 141.21, 141.46 and 141.64 to implement a uniform WMU system.

2.  Purpose and Authority

   Wildlife populations are not equally distributed or abundant across this Commonwealth. Accordingly, the Commission has regulated the harvest of species using species-specific management units made up of multiple counties. The use of different species-specific units and clusters of counties for delineating management units has, in the past, created complexity and confusion for hunters, trappers and Commission staff. To alleviate some of these problems, the wildlife management staff took a critical look at current species management units to evaluate the feasibility of implementing a uniform WMU system for improved resource management and hunter and trapper use.

   Using data solicited and incorporated from central office and field staff within the Commission, the Commission was able to generate a single, uniform WMU map for all species by incorporating landscape, human population, land ownership and wildlife data to set readily identifiable boundaries. Using recognizable physical features on the landscape as boundaries rather than intangible boundaries, such as county lines, simplifies the unit system for both users and resource managers. Once the WMUs are incorporated, the individual pheasant area maps, turkey management area maps and furbearer management area maps will no longer be required.

   Section 322(c)(1) of the code (relating to powers and duties of commission) specifically empowers the Commission to ''fix seasons . . . and daily, season and possession limits for any species of game or wildlife.'' Section 322(c)(4) of the code specifically authorizes the Commission to ''Define geographic limitations or restrictions.'' Section 2102(a) of the code (relating to regulations) authorizes the Commission to ''promulgate such regulations as it deems necessary and appropriate concerning game or wildlife and hunting . . . . '' These provisions provide the statutory basis for the final-form rulemaking.

3.  Regulatory Requirements

   The final-form rulemaking will simplify the current management areas system for users and resource managers by creating a single, uniform management system for all species with boundaries using recognizable physical features on the landscape.

4.  Persons Affected

   Persons who wish to hunt deer, ringneck pheasant and turkey and trap furbearers will be affected by the final-form rulemaking.

5.  Comment and Response Summary

   In total, 8 official comments were received in support and 72 official comments, plus 1 petition containing 230 signatures, were received in opposition to the amendments to Chapter 139 (relating to seasons and bag limits). It should be noted that the majority of those that responded were not opposed to the concept of the new WMUs in general, but for more specific reasons generated by local changes including: single counties being divided by more than one WMU; changes to antler restrictions; lengths of fall turkey seasons; and late antlerless deer seasons formerly found only in special regulations area counties. Additionally, five official comments were received in opposition to the new system for handling antlerless license applications.

6.  Cost and Paperwork Requirements

   The final-form rulemaking should not result in additional cost or paperwork.

7.  Effective Date

   The final-form rulemaking will be effective on publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and will remain in effect until changed by the Commission.

8.  Contact Person

   For further information regarding the final-form rulemaking, contact Michael A. Dubaich, Director, Bureau of Law Enforcement, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797, (717) 783-6526.


   The Commission finds that:

   (1)  Public notice of intention to adopt the administrative amendments adopted by this order has been given under sections 201 and 202 of the act of July 31, 1968 (P. L. 769, No. 240) (45 P. S. §§ 1201 and 1202) and the regulations thereunder, 1 Pa. Code §§ 7.1 and 7.2.

   (2)  The adoption of the amendments of the Commission in the manner provided in this order is necessary and appropriate for the administration and enforcement of the authorizing statute.


   The Commission, acting under authorizing statute, orders that:

   (a)  The regulations of the Commission, 58 Pa. Code Chapters 139 and 141, are amended by deleting §§ 141.21, 141.46 and 141.64 and Appendices B--D, by amending §§ 141.45 and 141.62 and by adding § 139.17 to read as set forth at 33 Pa.B. 1103 and by amending § 139.2 to read as set forth in Annex A.

   (b)  The Executive Director of the Commission shall certify this order, 33 Pa.B. 1103 and Annex A and deposit them with the Legislative Reference Bureau as required by law.

   (c)  This order shall become effective upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

Executive Director

   Fiscal Note:  Fiscal Note 48-155 remains valid for the final adoption of the subject regulations.

Annex A




§ 139.2.  Definitions.

   The following words and terms, when used in this chapter, have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

   Antlered deer--

   (i)  In Wildlife Management Units 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B and 2D, a deer having four or more points to one antler.

   (ii)  In all other wildlife management units, a deer having three or more points to one antler.

   (iii)  In all wildlife management units, junior license holders, disabled person permit (to use a vehicle) holders and residents serving on active duty in the United States Armed Forces, or in the United States Coast Guard, a deer having two or more points to one antler, or with one antler 3 inches or more in length.

   Antlered elk--An elk having at least one spike visible above the hairline.

   Antlerless deer--A deer without antlers, or a deer with antlers both of which are less than 3 inches in length.

   Antlerless elk--An elk without antlers, or an elk with no visible spike above the hairline.

   Client--A person who receives the services of a guide.

   Closed season--Periods of the calendar year and hours during which it is unlawful to take game or wildlife.

   Daily limit--The maximum number permitted to be taken by one person in 1 day during the open season.

   Early small game hunting season--A designated period when only squirrels and grouse may be hunted and taken.

   Field possession limit--The maximum number of legally taken wildlife of a species which a person may legally possess or transport between the place of taking and the person's permanent place of residence.

   Field possession limit--deer--When multiple harvests of deer per day are authorized, only one deer at a time may be harvested. Before harvesting additional deer, the deer previously harvested shall be lawfully tagged.

   Guide--A person who assists another person to hunt or take game by locating game, calling game or directing another to game.

   Hunting hours--The period each day of the open season, Sundays excepted, when game and wildlife may be lawfully taken.

   Point--An antler projection at least 1 inch in length from base to tip, the main beam tip shall be counted as a point regardless of length.

   Protected deer--A deer not defined as an antlered deer or an antlerless deer.

   Regular firearms deer season--The designated period of time when deer may be hunted and taken by a person who possesses a general hunting license or a general hunting license and antlerless license only.

   Regular small game hunting season--The designated period of time when resident small game species may be hunted and taken.

   Season limits--The maximum number of wildlife which may be taken during a designated open season or license year.

   Special firearms deer season--Any firearms deer season, except muzzleloader season, that precedes the regular firearms deer season.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 03-1177. Filed for public inspection June 20, 2003, 9:00 a.m.]

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