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State antlerless deer herds get scrutiny

| Monday, April 1, 2013, 9:27 p.m.

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania Game Commission biologists want to maintain deer herds at existing levels across most of Pennsylvania this fall.

Chris Rosenberry, head of the commission's deer management section, presented the board with recommendations for antlerless license allocations for the 2013-14 hunting seasons in a work session Monday.

The goal is to reduce the deer herd in wildlife management units 3C and 3D in northeastern Pennsylvania, where deer impacts on forests are still too high, and in units 4A, 5A and 5B, where chronic wasting disease has been found, he said. Everywhere else across the state, the goal is to maintain stable deer populations.

Rosenberry gave board members two options for achieving those goals.

He and his staff would like the commission to return to having two weeks of concurrent buck and doe hunting statewide. He presented the board with a recommendation doe license allocation for each unit based on having such seasons.

The board hasn't chosen to go that way in a while, but things might change eventually, even if not this year. A couple of commissioners, including Ralph Martone of New Castle and Ron Weaner of Adams County, said they prefer concurrent seasons and are leaning that way eventually.

“I'm getting closer to that decision,” Martone said.

But the board hasn't gone that way yet — it proposed 11 units with concurrent season and 11 with split seasons again for this fall — and isn't expected to do so this spring. Rosenberry also presented the board with recommendations for the number of doe tags needed if there are split seasons in places.

They are largely comparable to what was proposed in the past.

Commissioners may tweak them, however. That's what they did last April, when they set allocations different from the recommendations of biologists based on what they said were social factors.

Biologists last year recommended 65,000 doe tags for unit 2B, which surrounds Pittsburgh, for example. Commissioners approved only 59,000.

Commissioner Jay Delaney of Luzerne County has already said he, at least, likely will suggest some changes again this time around.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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