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Game commissioners consider changes for wildlife unit 2B

| Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, 8:54 p.m.

HARRISBURG — It doesn't look as though the boundary lines for wildlife management unit 2B are going to change any time soon.

But the tools hunters can use to chase deer within them probably will.

Pennsylvania Game Commissioners held a work group session Monday in Harrisburg.

They once again took up the issue of whether to change the shape of any of the state's 22 wildlife management units.

When commissioners looked at them in June, they couldn't come to terms with agency staff on what, if any, changes to make.

Commissioner Bob Schlemmer of Export recommended then that unit 2B, which takes in most of Allegheny County and portions of Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland, be made smaller.

The reason is tied to where and how hunters hunt.

Hunters are limited to using shotguns in Allegheny County, but they can use centerfire rifles in the counties on the fringes, where most of the hunting pressure takes place, Schlemmer said Monday.

That's led to complaints and threats from landowners who want a break from shooting by them, he added.

“I've got a tremendous amount of people, in Westmoreland County especially, calling now saying they're going to post their land, just shut it down altogether,” Schlemmer said.

The solution he and the other commissioners appear to have settled on is to keep unit 2B as is but restrict hunters pursuing deer outside of Allegheny County in late season to using only flintlock rifles, archery gear and, perhaps, in-line muzzleloaders.

The latter are not allowed in the post-Christmas hunt and aren't appropriate for use statewide, said commission president Ralph Martone of New Castle.

But it might make sense to allow them in unit 2B — and 5C and 5D in the southeast — as a way of satisfying landowners and still giving hunters a tool to control deer.

It's likely the board will recommend restricting the use of rifles in the late season, Schlemmer said.

If the idea gets preliminary approval from the board, it would still need final approval in April.

It would then go into effect for the 2013-14 hunting season.

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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