RULES AND REGULATIONS
[58 PA. CODE CH. 147]
[35 Pa.B. 3936]
To effectively manage the wildlife resources of this Commonwealth, the Game Commission (Commission), at its April 26, 2005, meeting, adopted amendments to §§ 147.672, 147.674 and 147.676 (relating to definitions; issuance of DMAP harvest permits; and unlawful acts) to allow any defined hunting club to enroll its property in the Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP), to allow a DMAP applicant to issue up to two coupons per qualified individuals per license year and to allow the Commission to deny refund of any application fees paid for DMAP harvest permits to persons who fail to complete and submit report and survey information from the prior season.
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 35 Pa.B. 1771 (March 19, 2005).
1. Purpose and Authority
DMAP has been in effect for almost two full seasons and has already proven to be an asset to both public and private landowners as a tool for the effective management of local white-tailed deer herds on lands where excessive deer numbers have compromised the landowners' land management objectives, land uses and other legitimate interests. In response to these successes, the Commission has identified a few changes that should make DMAP even more effective in the future.
Formerly, hunting clubs that wished to enroll in DMAP were required to own and enroll 1,000 or more contiguous acres in the program. This restriction severely limited the eligibility of DMAP to smaller hunting clubs. In light of the proven effectiveness of DMAP thus far, the Commission has expanded accessibility to DMAP for smaller hunting clubs that wish to enroll in DMAP. Specifically, the Commission redefined ''hunting club'' in § 147.672 by removing the restrictive and limiting language regarding required minimum acreage. This amendment should make DMAP more accessible to hunting clubs that do not own or do not wish to enroll 1,000 or more contiguous acres.
Formerly, the requirements and restrictions of §§ 147.674 and 147.676 prevented a DMAP enrollee's ability to issue more than one coupon for each qualified individual per license year. In light of the proven effectiveness of DMAP thus far, the Commission has increased the number of coupons that may be issued by DMAP enrollees. Specifically, the Commission has replaced language in §§ 147.674 and 147.676 limiting the allowable number of coupons a DMAP enrollee may issue to one coupon per qualified individual per license year and replaced it with language limiting the allowable number of coupons a DMAP enrollee may issue to two coupons per qualified individual per license year. This amendment should help make DMAP even more effective in the future towards meeting the deer management goals of both public and private landowners.
The Commission recently amended § 147.674 to allow the Commission to deny issuance of DMAP harvest permits to persons who fail to complete and submit harvest report and survey information from the prior season. As previously mentioned, DMAP is a special program designed to assist landowners in reducing deer herd sizes in certain areas where specific problems exist due to excessive herd sizes. However, accurate harvest data is critically important to making DMAP work effectively. Without accurate harvest data, the Commission is unable to adequately determine DMAP's effectiveness in reaching the landowner's, as well as the Commission's, deer management goals. While the Commission believes that this recent amendment should encourage some complete and timely submissions by current DMAP harvest permitholders, it believes that additional measures are needed to ensure complete compliance with reporting requirements by all DMAP harvest permitholders. Towards this end, the Commission amended § 147.674 to allow the Commission to deny the refund of any application fees paid for DMAP harvest permits to persons who fail to complete and submit harvest report and survey information from the prior season.
Section 2901(b) of the code (relating to authority to issue permits) provides ''The commission may, as deemed necessary to properly manage the game or wildlife resources, promulgate regulations for the issuance of any permit and promulgate regulations to control the activities which may be performed under authority of any permit issued.'' Section 2102(a) of the code (relating to regulations) provides ''The commission shall promulgate such regulations as it deems necessary and appropriate concerning game or wildlife and hunting...in this Commonwealth, including regulations relating to the... management of game or wildlife . . . .'' The amendments to §§ 147.672, 147.674 and 147.676 were adopted under this authority.
2. Regulatory Requirements
The final-form rulemaking will remove some limitations and expand the eligibility of hunting clubs to enroll in DMAP, will expand a DMAP applicant's ability to issue two coupons per qualified individuals per license year rather than one and will allow the Commission to deny refund of any application fees paid for DMAP harvest permits to persons who fail to complete and submit harvest report and survey information from the prior season.
3. Persons Affected
Persons wishing to apply to have their land enrolled in DMAP and persons wishing to submit a DMAP coupon for a DMAP harvest permit will be affected by the final-form rulemaking.
4. Comment and Response Summary
The Commission received a total of 138 official comments regarding DMAP. From this total, 65 comments were in support of DMAP, 64 comments were in opposition to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resource's eligibility for DMAP and 9 comments were in support of an increase in the number of coupons a DMAP applicant may issue to each qualified individuals per license year. The Commission also received a petition signed by 1,677 individuals recommending that DMAP be eliminated on public lands north of I-80.
5. Cost and Paperwork Requirements
The final-form rulemaking may result in minor additional cost or paperwork associated with additional enrollment and coupon processing costs.
6. Effective Date
The final-form rulemaking will be effective upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and will remain in effect until changed by the Commission.
7. 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 Chapter 147, are amended by amending §§ 147.672, 147.674 and 147.676 to read as set forth at 35 Pa.B. 1771.
(b) The Executive Director of the Commission shall certify this order and 35 Pa.B. 1771 and deposit them with the Legislative Reference Bureau as required by law.
(c) This order shall become effective upon final-form publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
VERNON R. ROSS,
Fiscal Note: Fiscal Note 48-200 remains valid for the final adoption of the subject regulations.
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 05-1336. Filed for public inspection July 15, 2005, 9:00 a.m.]
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