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Pennsylvania Game Commission sets doe license numbers

| Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 12:30 a.m.

Pennsylvania Game Commissioners will offer hunters the chance to kill more deer this fall than last year in a few noteworthy spots.

Board members Tuesday approved antlerless license allocations for the 2012-13 hunting seasons, following the recommendations of their deer biologists in 15 of 22 wildlife management units. That will mean more doe tags in some places, less in others.

In a few units, such as 1B, 2D and 2G, they agreed to offer more licenses, but not as many more as biologists suggested.

The goal, outside of special regulation areas, is to stabilize deer numbers at existing levels, said chief deer biologist Chris Rosenberry.

Additional doe licenses are needed to achieve that in places where the deer herd has seen “some pretty significant population increases,” said commissioner Dave Putnam of Centre County. Unit 2G, for example, had 67,875 deer in 2007, according to commission estimates. Last year it had 109,741.

Ned Carter, land manager for Collins Pine Co., the state's largest private landowner, told commissioners a day earlier that if such growth continues, recent habitat improvements could evaporate.

“If we stabilize things where we are, though, I think we can sustainably manage our lands,” Carter said.

Yesterday, Putnam said the board shares that goal.

“I don't want to see us lose some of the gains we've made,” Putnam said.

Not everyone will agree, if history is any guide.

The commission this winter did two surveys, one of deer hunters at random and one of hunters known to have killed a deer this past season.

About two-thirds of respondents said the deer population is too low, Rosenberry said.

That's virtually the same percentage that complained of too few deer in the mid-1990s — what some would refer to as the “good old days” — when a similar survey was conducted, he added.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. he can be reached at bfrye@tribweb.com or 724-838-5148.

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