Next Saturday (Oct. 3) is the start of the statewide archery hunting season for antlered and antlerless deer. The season runs until Nov. 14 including Sunday, Nov. 15 and again from Nov. 16-20. Then there’s the post Christmas Day late season from Dec. 26 until Jan. 18.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) makes note of some regulation changes for archers going afield:
*For bowhunters hunting during the three, first time Sunday hunting days, and when hunting on private property, hunters are required to carry written permission from the landowner.
*Hunters are reminded of the new “Purple Paint Law” that entitles landowners to mark their boundaries with purple markings instead of signs.
*Hunters may use illuminated nocks for arrows or bolts but may not use transmitter-tracking arrows which are illegal.
*If using portable tree stands on state game lands, they must be marked with durable identification that identifies the stand owner. Tags must include owner’s name, address, CID number appearing on their hunting license or a unique number obtained from the PGC’s Outdoor Shop or PGC website.
*Portable tree stands on state game lands must be removed no later than two weeks after the close of the flintlock and late archery seasons.
Additionally, if hunting in a chronic wasting disease (CWD) area and when shooting a deer from a disease management area (DMA), the PGC says you cannot take high-risk parts including, meat, the head, spinal cord, backbone, spleen, skull plate and attached antler - if visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present and more – beyond DMA boundaries (listed on PGCs website). The skull plate with attached antlers, may be removed if no visible brain or spinal cord material is present. There are several sites where hunters can dispose of high-risk parts from public areas within DMA’s. Consult the PGC’s website for locations.
The PGC says this doesn’t mean hunters who take a buck have to give up the antlers, as they can take the rack and skull plate – if properly cleaned - to a taxidermist or home and put the rest of the head in a collection bin for testing.
If the deer is suspect, the agency said hunters can take it to any processor or taxidermist located inside the DMA boundaries, or, a cooperating processor or taxidermist identified on the interactive map at www.bit.ly/PGC-CWDmap, or at http://bit.ly/wherecanitakemydeerPGC.
There has also been some controversy regarding using deer urine as attractants for deer hunting. In contacting Bob Frye, PGC’s CWD Communications Specialist, he said deer urine may not be used in CWD/DMA areas. But when asked about the new 100 percent CWD free urine from Inventive Outdoors, a Woodbridge, VA based company, Frye said, “If the product is indeed free of cervid urine, it’s legal to use inside or outside of a disease management area.”
While on the topic of deer scent, Bob’s Wildlife Taxidermy in Orefield received the first batch of his fresh “Yurine Luck” buck urine. Last season several bowhunters told him they managed to lure their bucks into bow range by putting down a urine trail with his fresh buck scent.
Also on Oct. 3 is the special rabbit hunting season for eligible junior hunters with or without required license. The season ends on Oct. 17 when the statewide season opens for rabbits. This is an opportunity for juniors to learn the sport and enjoy the great outdoors.
ANTLERLESS DEER LICENSE APPLICATION PROCESS UNDER REVIEW
Pennsylvania Game Commission staff today appeared before the Board of Commissioners to deliver a report on the application process for antlerless deer licenses.
While the existing process is required by state law, and can’t be changed by the Game Commission unless the General Assembly first passes legislation that amends the law, the commissioners asked staff in July to proactively review the process.
Existing state law requires that antlerless deer licenses be issued by county treasurers.
Game Commission staff determined the existing automated license system used by the agency is capable of issuing antlerless licenses, either on a first-come, first-serve basis, or through lottery. Staff identified its preferred option is selling antlerless deer licenses on a first-come, first-serve basis, and identified a procedure and plan for implementing this process. The Commission will now continue to work with the General Assembly on amending Title 34 to allow for modernization of the antlerless license sale process.
With this week being the first week of fall, and if you’re a motorboat owner, be it a fishing or recreational boat, and don’t have plans using it again until next spring, the folks at BoatUS suggest following these guidelines for winter storage.
*Freshwater flush: Use a flushing attachment or run the outboard in a tank filled with clean water.
*Empty fuel lines and carburetors: With the engine running, disconnect the fuel line from the engine. When the engine dies, the fuel delivery components will be empty, preventing gums from forming in the stagnant gasoline and clogging lines, jets or injectors.
* Fog the carburetor intake(s): Before the engine runs out of fuel, spray fogging oil into the carb(s). Fogging oil is an anticorrosive that will protect the internal surfaces of the carb and cylinders. Typically, the engine will run rough just before it runs out of fuel. As that happens, give the carb(s) a heavier shot of fogging oil to insure internal surfaces are fully coated.
*Drain cooling passages: Disconnect the flush attachment or remove the motor from the flush tank. With the motor upright, let all water drain out of the pick-up. Open drain plugs (if any) to empty the powerhead and intermediate housing. Crank the motor a couple times by hand or “bump” it with the starter to empty the water pump. Remove the spark plugs and spray fogging oil into the holes to coat the interior surfaces of the cylinders. Rotate the flywheel a few turns to spread the oil onto the cylinder walls. While the plugs are out, it’s the time to check them for corrosion and regap or replace as required. Reinstall the plugs.
*Lubricate linkages and electric starter drive mechanism: Clean all pivots and visible gears and protect them for winter with oil or grease per the owner’s manual.
*Drain and refill gearcase: Use lubricant specified in the owner’s manual. Fill oil tank. This will prevent condensation from forming inside the tank.
*Drain fuel tank and supply lines: Starting the engine in spring with old gasoline is an invitation to problems. Manage to leave your tank(s) close to empty, then drain the fuel that remains. Use it in your snow blower or cars’ tank, but leave the gasoline lines and tanks empty. If emptying the tank completely is not practical for your boat, top if off to 95 percent full. This is particularly important with the introduction of ethanol into the gasoline supply. Gasoline with ethanol is subject to phase separation if water gets into the fuel, which will surely happen with a half-empty tank over the winter. Filling the tank also limits the air space inside the tank and reduces the potential for internal condensation.
*Stabilize the fuel: If you leave the tank full, add an appropriate amount of gasoline stabilizer to combat the formation of passage-clogging gums.
*Clean and lubricate the propeller shaft: The off-season is the perfect time to have your prop serviced. If the engine will be stored on the boat, take the props off to discourage theft.
*Store upright: Laying the engine down risks water draining where it shouldn’t. An engine stand is easy to cobble together.
While these suggestions may not pertain to all motorboats, many items are applicable to most gasoline engines.
This weekend marks the opening of the archery deer and bear seasons in Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5C and 5D. The season runs from Sept. 19-Nov. 27. For deer (both antlered and antlerless), this will include one of the first Sunday hunts on Nov. 15.
The statewide archery season, which numbers about 400,000 bowhunters according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s archery license sales, kicks off for both buck and doe on Oct. 17 and runs until Nov. 7.
A youth and mentored youth squirrel hunt opened this past Saturday and runs until Sept. 26 when junior and mentored youth hunters can hunt with or without a hunting license. The first part of the regular squirrel season also got underway on Saturday and runs until Nov. 27.
The elk season also got underway Saturday for those lucky enough to draw an elk tag.
But back to deer that seem to be everywhere in suburbia and places you wouldn’t expect them to be.
I friend who lives off Lindbergh Avenue in Salisbury Township and not far from Lehigh Parkway has deer, even some sizable bucks, coming into this back yard that is bordered by other homes. Most recently, and as he was sitting on his patio and sipping a coffee, a 6-point buck sauntered up to within 15 feet of him. The attraction there is sunflowers and emerald arborvitae trees he has. Funny thing is, the deer only eat the center of the trees not the bottoms or tops which is an easy 7-foot stretch if they stand on their hind legs.
Then there was the doe that found its way inside the fence of the Allentown Fairgrounds in February as it seemed to walk around looking for an escape exit, according to the manager of the Sunoco gas station across the street.
There are also deer throughout Lehigh Parkway (even a bear in July), in small woodlots and fencerows around Parkland High School, the farmland across from Whitehall High School, Whitehall Parkway, woodlots off Schantz Road and behind the new Parkland elementary school, patches of woods along the Lehigh River from Whitehall to Laury’s Station, the woods along Huckleberry Road that will shortly be developed, small woodlots off Tilghman Street across from the vo-tech school, and of course the vast holdings of GEM Corporation (formerly Trojan Powder), all in Lehigh County.
The point being, deer were pushed out of from many of their northern woodland haunts because of development of warehouses, homes, apartments and office complexes, but they have adapted and survive.
A word of notice, the woodlot on Lehnert Road down from the tennis courts in Whitehall Township and owned by the County of Lehigh, was opened for bowhunting by former County Executive Don Cunningham. But now its posted for no hunting.
As most bowhunters hunt from a tree stand, every year hunters fall from tree stands because they lack proper safety equipment. According to the Tree Stand Safety Awareness Foundation (TSSA), the number one cause of injuries and deaths when deer hunting are from falling out of a treestand. They list 20 percent fall from home made stands, 31 percent from lock-on stands, 20 percent from ladder stands, 25 percent from climbers and 4 percent from others.
Falls shouldn’t happen with the array of safety harnesses on the market. It’s a small investment to pay for a life or limb.
LOCAL TROUT STOCKING
While the fall trout stocking schedule for Lehigh County is listed for Oct. 15, it was pushed back to Oct. 22 for the Little Lehigh Creek in Allentown.
With cooler nighttime temperatures local fishing should improve, primarily on lakes and ponds. Stream fishing, on the other hand, is slow except for avid fly anglers who have the patience and expertise to coax a leftover trout to hit.
Fall trout stockings are far and few between and as for Lehigh County, the stocking schedule lists the Little Lehigh Creek to be stocked Oct. 15, but it was moved to Oct. 22.
Until then, the best angling action right now is saltwater at the most popular northern New Jersey shore points.
According to On the Water Magazine, a remarkable inshore Bluefin tuna bite is going on. Plus, there’s plenty of action on bonito, false albacore, Spanish mackerel, terrific reports of fluke, even some inshore mahi-mahi. The magazine says there’s a build-up of bait in the bays and river which appears to have the makings of a good fall run.
Tackle World tackle shop in Rochelle Park, reported a solid inshore bite of black tip and spinner sharks as they’re feeding on lots of bunker with the added bonus of a Bluefin tuna or two.
Capt. Phil Sciortino, at the Tackle Box in Hazlet, NJ, says fluking has been really good with a little more than two weeks left in the season. He adds that the rough bottom areas of the Rattlesnake and Scotland Grounds has been yielding big fish and lots of limits. The porgy bite has also been good on the Tin Can Grounds.
Jilian’s Bait & Tackle in Atlantic Highlands, reported good fluking on the hard bottoms of Ambrose and Chapel Hill channels.
Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright, NJ, reported several bluefish blitzes on the beach with blues stretching from Sea Bright to Long Branch, NJ. Blues were gorging on peanut bunker and spearing. Also, good numbers of blues and Spanish mackerel at the Rip on Sandy Hook. As for fluke, the keeper ratio is getting better in the surf, but shorts are still in the majority. Additionally, small stripers are falling for poppers in the Shrewsbury and Naversink rivers.
Mike Gleason, at Tak Waterman in Long Branch, managed to take (after a 30-minute fight) a 69-inch bluefin that swallowed his Madd Mantis popper just 20 feet from the boat. He says the offshore yellowfin tuna bite remains good while surf fishing has been producing blues and short bass with an occasional fluke.
Small blues, he added, blitzed the beach in Ocean Grove last week with plenty of small fluke in the wash.
Over at Grumpy’s Bait & Tackle in Seaside Park, they report fluke and blues continue to bite well in the surf. They’re surprised the blues are in so close. Crabbing too remains good in the bay but it’s recommend hitting the less frequented lagoons.
On the Water’s upcoming forecast, with two weeks remaining in the fluke season, is that fishing should be really good this week. It’s recommended anglers hit the rough bottoms with Gulp and bucktails. The beaches too should produce good action on bass, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and false albacore.
The upcoming Sept. 1 dove hunting season kicks off the first part of Pennsylvania’s small game season.
Dove populations within the U.S. are estimated at 350 million with over 20 million harvested annually by hunters.
Doves are the most abundant game birds in North America and in Pennsylvania alone, hunters take over 100,00 yearly.
Despite these numbers We wish there was better news. when the season kicks off for a split season that runs until Nov. 27 and reopens again Dec. 18-Jan. 2. It’s also the date when the early Canada goose season also opens which runs until Sept. 25.
This pessimism is the result of a loss of habitat and hunting lands that fell prey to warehouses and housing developments by greedy, land grabbing developers.
In Lehigh County, the primary dove hunting opportunities are on State Game Lands #205 in Lowhill Township where the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) traditionally plants wildlife food crops.
If you do some intense searching, you may be lucky to find a farm to hunt after acquiring permission to hunt in upper Lehigh and Northampton counties.
Compared to those counties, upper Berks County has more open farm lands where most are owned by Mennonite farmers who will often give hunting permission if appropriately approached.
If new to dove hunting in Pennsylvania, and besides the general hunting license, hunters age 12 and older need a state migratory bird license. Fluorescent orange is not required but there are other important regulations.
According to the PGC, agricultural crops and natural vegetation may be manipulated to improve dove hunting. Manipulation means the alteration of agricultural crops or natural vegetation by activities such as mowing, shredding, disking, rolling, chopping, trampling, flattening, burning, or herbicide treatments. Manipulation does not include the distributing or scattering of seeds, grains, or other feed after removal from or storage on the field where grown. Manipulation does not include the placement of grain in piles or other artificial concentrations. In Pennsylvania, the manipulation of the crop or vegetation for purposes of dove hunting must be done no later than September 15th each year.
You may hunt doves over manipulated grain crops, such as wheat, milo, sorghum, millet, sunflower, and buckwheat. Although you can hunt doves over manipulated agricultural crops, you cannot hunt waterfowl or other wildlife species over manipulated agricultural crops except after the field has been subject to a normal harvest and removal of grain recognized as a normal agricultural process. A managed dove field, which has had a crop manipulated, is off limits to hunting of all other species until 30 days after the manipulated grain and/or its residue is removed from the field.
Agricultural activities other than planting or harvesting also scatter grain or other feed in agricultural areas. You can hunt doves in such areas provided the agricultural operation involved is a normal agricultural practice. A normal agricultural planting is a planting undertaken for the purpose of producing or gathering a crop. Normal plantings do not involve the placement of grain in piles or other concentrations. You cannot, however, hunt in an area where grain, salt, or other feed has been placed to improve dove hunting.
I used to look forward to dove hunting with my son who when he was a teen 30 years ago, managed to shoot doubles on dove at a sunflower field in Macungie. A fete I never accomplished. It was a great mentoring and memorable dove hunting trip that will probably never again be realized since that field now houses homes and a nearby strip mall while our other huntable places saddenly also dried up.
The daily dove limit is 15 with 45 in possession. Incidentally, their dark meat makes delightful table fare, especially if wrapped in bacon and cooked on a grille. I miss that too.
With a rash of shark incidences occurring this summer, here are some shark facts you may not know about them
With an upswing in the number of recent shark spotting’s, a few attacks, even a fatality like the lady who was killed by a great white in Maine, here are some interesting facts about sharks you may not know, from the folks at The Outdoor Hub.
*Sharks have been around a very long time based on fossil scales found in Australia and the United States. Scientists hypothesize sharks first appeared in the ocean around 455 million years ago.
*Scientists age sharks by counting the rings on their vertebrae which contain concentric pairs of opaque and translucent bands. Band pairs are counted like rings on a tree and then scientists assign an age to the sharks based on the count. Thus, they say, if the vertebrae has 10 band pairs, it’s assumed to be 10 years old. Recent studies, however, have shown that this assumption is not always correct. Researchers must study each species and size class to determine how often the band pairs are deposited because the deposition rate may change over time. Determining the actual rate that the bands are deposited is called “validation.”
*Blue sharks are really blue as they display a brilliant blue color on the upper portion of its body and is normally snowy white beneath. The mako and porbeagle sharks also exhibit a blue coloration, but it’s not nearly as brilliant as that of a blue shark. In life, most sharks are brown, olive and grayish.
*As for whale shark’s, their spot pattern is unique as a fingerprint. They are the largest fish in the ocean and weigh as much as 40 tons by some estimates. Basking sharks are the world’s second largest fish growing as long as 32 feet and weighting more than five tons.
*Some shark species have a spiracle that allows them to pull water into their respiratory system while at rest. Most sharks, as you know, have to keep swimming to pump water over their gills. A shark’s spiracle is located just behind the eyes that supplies oxygen directly to the shark’s eyes and brain. Bottom dwelling sharks, like angel and nurse sharks, use this extra respiratory organ to breathe while at rest on the seafloor. It’s also used for respiration when the shark’s mouth is used for eating.
* You may know if watching “Shark Week” that not all sharks have the same teeth? Mako sharks have very pointed teeth, while white sharks have triangular, serrated teeth. Each have a unique, tell-tale mark on their prey. A sandbar shark will have around 35,000 teeth over the course of its lifetime.
*Different shark species reproduce in different ways as they exhibit a great diversity in their reproductive modes. There are oviparous (egg laying) species and viviparous (live bearing) species. Oviparous species lay eggs that develop and hatch outside the mother’s body with no parental care after the eggs are laid.
There you have it. Some fun facts of sharks that are to be respected, and for many, feared by anyone enjoying ocean water.
Recent storms played havoc with local fishing conditions so anglers may want to hit the Jersey shore
After cleaning and painting the trout holding ponds and getting delivery of 14,600 trout fingerlings at Allentown’s Lil-Le-Hi Trout Nursery, Mother Nature dealt the site a nasty blow during the recent storm with its flooding conditions.
According to Herb Gottschall, President of Little Lehigh Fish & Game Association, the adjacent Little Lehigh Creek flooded all but one of the holding ponds at the nursery. Because of this, Gottschall thinks they probably lost fish but they won’t know until the site can be cleaned, the water clears and the remaining fish re-counted.
This storm also made local streams and the Lehigh River high and muddy with floating debris. This Friday, the Little Lehigh was supposed to get 60 trophy palomino trout from Cabela’s to stock in the Little Lehigh section of Lehigh Parkway. This is in addition to 60 they stocked last Frday. But the parkway too experienced damaging conditions with roads washed out and debris all over the place. So it’s unclear when those trout will be stocked although Gottschall said it may be this upcoming Friday if the City of Allentown can get the parkway repaired and cleaned-up. Gottschall added that this flooding problem was worse then what the nursery experienced during the Sandy storm.
Until local streams and lake conditions improve, anglers may want to head to the Jersey shore to try their saltwater luck. The following reports come compliments from our On the Water Magazine fishing reporters. The shore areas also experienced power outages and losses, but seem to have recovered quickly.
Rick Hebert. at Tackle World in Rochelle Park, said fluking was holding up nicely before the blow and now we have to wait and see. He fished the Axel Carlson Reef last weekend and got his limit with fish up to 6 pounds. He’s also received reports of schoolie stripers along the beaches hitting shads and small plugs.
Capt. Phil Sciortino, of The Tackle Box in Hazlet, reported the fluke fishing had been very good in Raritan Bay and out front prior to the blow. The shop weighed in a 10-pounder last Thursday from an angler fishing from a kayak.
Sciortino said the crabbing is excellent at all the usual spots around the bay. Snappers are all over the place as well. He also reported good porgy fishing on the local rock piles.
Joe Julian Jr., at Julian’s Bait and Tackle in Atlantic Highlands, reported losing a lot of killies due to the power outage caused by Tuesday’s storm, but that was the extent of the damage. He reports big fluke have been caught in the Shrewsbury River close to the ferry dock and the porgy fishing has been good in the bay. He’s had reports of cobia in the bay as well. And the crabbing, he added, has been awesome, especially in the Navesink River.
Mike Pinto, at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright, said the best thing going on locally is the crabbing in the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers. The fluking in the surf is okay, but added, it’s still mostly shorts. There were small blues and bass in the surf before the storm, so we’ll have to wait and see if they’re still around once the water clears.
Mike Gleason, at Tak Waterman in Long Branch, reported a lot of schoolie bass caught in the surf on shads and small plugs prior to the blow. It was a dawn-and-dusk bite. Spanish mackerel too were found off the beach, and there were tons of adult bunker in the area as well. Peanut bunker are back in the rivers along with snapper blues. Last weekend saw a lot of yellowfin tuna caught on jigs, Gleason said, but there haven’t been any reports since the storm.
The Ocean Grove surf has plenty of short fluke but I’ve yet to get a keeper. Short bass are hitting shads and small plugs and one took his Gulp lure at the beginning of the week. Sand bugs will probably still work for them. “Watch out for the big rays, Gleason cautioned. One spooled me over the weekend and I was lucky to get most of the line back.”
Bob Matthews, at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar, said the Shark River continues to give up some nice fluke with Steve Adamo weighing in a 4.5 pounder and A.J. Earley with a 5.5-pound fluke. Matthews added that there are loads of snappers in the river right now along with peanut bunker. Folks are picking up some stripers in there as well on shads.
With the heat and humidity we’re experiencing, it’s advisable to keep our bodies well hydrated. The same goes for our fine feathered friends. They seek out water to drink and bathe in and maintaining a clean bird bath is key to attracting birds, year round.
If you have a bird bath, no matter how simple, inexpensive or improvised, keeping the bird bath clean with fresh water is important. As a youngster growing up in West Catasauqua, my summer job was to dump out the water from our ceramic bird bath then scrubbing it clean with a brush then adding fresh water. I had to do this twice a week and more if debris or bird droppings were in it.
If you have a bird bath, you may want to add some pizzazz to it with some action and sound of moving water. According to the Birding Wire, this can be done with a small fountain, waterfall, dripper, mister – or all of these options. Not only will one or more of these accessories create more lively action with the sight and sound of moving water, but they also make your bird bath, water basin, or water feature even more attractive to birds, especially birds that are making a migration stop or even looking for a winter layover.
It’s natural for birds to locate water sources by listening for the movement of water, says the Wire. That’s how they find water at springs, streams – and at bird baths. Therefore, it should be a natural to include moving water as part of a bird feeding station or flower garden. You don’t even need an electric connection to keep a motor running if you opt for a solar-operated fountain attachment or a funky “water wiggler.”
Your local birding or hardware store may have some options. But this kind of specialized equipment can be sent to your door by ordering it online from, for example, Duncraft, or other birding sites.
Here are a variety of options readily available that will have a functioning water feature operating to attract a greater variety of birds during the second half of August and thereafter.
First on the list is a miniature Rock Waterfall, which adds a natural-looking base and the trickle of running water to your yard. This is the exotic exception and one accessory listed that requires an electrical outlet and the safety precautions that come with that, but it’s sure to add much to your backyard habitat if you maintain one. Learn more at https://www.duncraft.com/Layered-Waterfall-Rock-Pump.
A Solar Fountain fits in almost any bird bath, water basin, or other water feature is also available from Duncraft. Learn more about this interesting mini-fountain at https://www.duncraft.com/Solar-Fountain-Pump-Kit.
Drippers and Misters don’t need a power source, but they do require a water source – usually just an outdoor hose is adequate to hook up a dripper, mister, or a combination of the two.
A two-in-one combination, the Drip-or-Mist attachment from Wild Birds Unlimited provides a level of versatility that can be adapted for hummingbirds that prefer mist, or dialed to a dripper with a variable drip rate for many other birds. Learn more about this versatile water feature at https://order.wbu.com/shop/bird-baths-&-houses/bird-baths-&-water/drip-or-mist
Duncraft offers a pure Dripper option, which you can see and review at https://www.duncraft.com/Ivy-Leaf-Pebble-Dipper and https://www.duncraft.com/Erva-Universal-Dripper.
There are also Water Wigglers. The Water Wiggler runs on two DD batteries that keeps water moving with a rippling action. Learn more at https://www.duncraft.com/Water-Wiggler. A lighted option is the Aurora Water Wiggler that features a dome that illuminates at dusk and cycles through six different colors – just for fun. Learn more at https://www.duncraft.com/Aurora-Water-Wiggler.
These can make your existing water feature more interesting for local birds, migrating birds, and eventually, wintering birds. All birds are attracted to water, especially moving water, so consider the importance of using the moving water accessories that you think will serve you and the birds best. In the least, set up a static bird bath that provides a clean water source. The birds will love you for it.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) is asking deer hunters to assist them in determining where the potential spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) exists by offering special Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) permits for eight Enhanced Surveillance Units (ESUs).
These special permits, says the PGC, that went on sale July 30, will allow hunters to take antlerless deer in the 2020-21 hunting seasons. It’s intended for hunters to use the tags to harvest deer, then submit the heads from those animals for CWD testing.
The PGC says CWD testing occurs statewide annually, but it’s especially critical in Enhanced Surveillance Units where CWD has been found.
According to the PGC, these surveillance units are small areas within larger Disease Management Areas. They surround the spot where a CWD positive wild or captive deer was found.
These CWD detections noteworthy in that they are at the leading edge of disease expansion, or at least 5 miles from any other past CWD detection.
With the help of hunters, the PGC intends to determine if those CWD positive deer were outliers, meaning the only sick one in their respective areas, or a clue to a bigger problem. The agency’s deer management goal is to limit CWD to no more than one percent of the adult deer in these units. By harvesting deer and submitting heads from those deer for testing, hunters can help determine where CWD exists and to what degree.
“The Game Commission has a CWD Response Plan,” said Christopher Rosenberry, chief of the agency’s game management division. “But hunters are the real key to making it work. The samples they provide from deer they harvest, especially in Enhanced Surveillance Units, help’s us identify where CWD exists on the landscape, at what prevalence, and what management actions we need to take to control it.”
The PGC will place deer-head collection bins in each unit. It will test all deer heads gathered with a valid harvest tag – at no cost to the hunter – and report back to those hunters with news of whether their deer tested positive for CWD or not. Locations of the deer-head collection bins can be found here: https://www.pgc.pa.gov/Wildlife/Wildlife-RelatedDiseases/Pages/ChronicWastingDisease.aspx.
The Game Commission is aiming to collect at least 250 to 300 deer heads from each unit.
Within the eight DMAP areas associated with Enhanced Surveillance Units, the closest to Lehigh/Northampton counties are in DMAP Unit 3468 in Bern, Brecknock, Cumru, Heidelberg, Jefferson, Lower Heidelberg, Marion, North Heidelberg, Penn, South Heidelberg and Spring townships in Berks County; Brecknock, Clay, Earl, East Cocalico, East Earl, Elizabeth, Ephrata, Upper Leacock, Warwick, West Cocalico and West Earl townships in Lancaster County; and Heidelberg, Jackson, Millcreek, North Lebanon and South Lebanon townships in Lebanon County. It encompasses 346 square miles and has 4,430 permits available.
Maps showing the specific boundaries of each Enhanced Surveillance Unit can be found at: https://pagame.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id?084308c67d524d14ad90dcb2232b0c01 and here https://www.pgc.pa.gov/Wildlife/Wildlife-RelatedDiseases/Pages/ChronicWastingDisease.aspx.
DMAP tags for the Enhanced Surveillance Units can be purchased at any license issuing agent. Hunters just need to identify the unit they want to hunt by number says the PGC.
“We know Pennsylvania deer hunters are passionate,” Rosenberry said, and these additional tags gives them even more opportunity to enjoy that pursuit and, just as importantly, be our first line of defense in managing Chronic Wasting Disease. We’re all in this together. Getting the needed samples is critical. The additional DMAP tags are one tool to help us to obtain these samples. But we need samples from all deer harvested in the Enhanced Surveillance Unit. Extending the hunting season is another possible action the agency may take if not enough samples are obtained. Our hunters are the first line of defense and we need their help,” he concludes.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.