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Commission notebook: Elk management zones to be tweaked

| Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

• The Game Commission is likely going to tweak the boundaries of its elk management zones. The plan is to redraw them by fall to better address nuisance complaints and harvest goals, said Chris Rosenberry, head of the commission's deer and elk section. The commission determines how many elk licenses to allocate based on how many animals it wants to remove from each hunt zone, he said. But there can be several “subpopulations” of elk within any one hunt zone, and subpopulation can wander across as many as three or four hunt zones at any one time, he said. The result is hunters aren't always able to get at the elk biologists would like them to target, Rosenberry said. New boundaries may allow for better precision in applying hunter pressure, he said. It's also likely the commission will make more elk licenses available for this fall than last, he added.

• It appears as though Pennsylvania may have as many bear hunters as it's going to get. The Game Commission sold 160,857 bear licenses last year, said Mark Ternent, its bear biologist. That's about where things have been over the last three years, he said. Sales increased steadily from 1999 through about 2010, with the biggest jumps coming when the commission added more bear hunting opportunities, such as a Saturday opener for the regular season, he said. But things have leveled off. “It's quite likely we might have stabilized interest in bear hunting. We might have hit a plateau,” Ternent said.

around the fish and boat commission

• There may be some changes in how Penns Creek in Centre County — a popular destination water for anglers locally and elsewhere — is managed. Fish and Boat Commissioners gave preliminary approval to a proposal that would put a slot limit in effect on 7 miles of water between Elk Creek and Swift Run. That section is currently managed under all-tackle trophy trout regulations. It's open to angling all year, with a daily limit of two fish of at least 14 inches. Starting Jan. 1 of next year, the commission wants to put a slot limit into effect. Anglers would be allowed to keep two fish per day but only if they were between 7 and 12 inches long. Additionally, while fishing would still be allowed year round with any type tackle, fish could be kept only from opening day of trout season through Labor Day. If given final approval later this year, the changes would remain in effect through Dec. 31, 2020. Biologists would monitor the stream in the meantime to see how the changes are working.

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