Share This Page

Changes to reporting deer discussed

| Sunday, April 14, 2013, 8:15 p.m.

HARRISBURG — Knowing the rules and following them are not the same thing.

Hunters who take a deer are required to report it to the Pennsylvania Game Commission within 10 days of the kill. This past season, though, just 36 percent of hunters who killed a buck and 33 percent who killed a doe reported it, said the commission's chief deer biologist, Chris Rosenberry.

That's not unusual. Reporting rates have been going downhill for years, he said.

Monday, Game Commissioners will set seasons and bag limits and decide how many antlerless deer licenses to allocate based in part on that poor reporting.

The commission estimates deer harvest numbers by taking the total hunters report and cross-checking it against deer they examine at butcher shops around the state. The result is a statistically valid estimate, Rosenberry said.

“Our numbers are probably more accurate than anybody else's because of the number of deer we handle,” added commissioner Dave Putnam of Centre County.

Commissioner Ralph Martone of New Castle noted that such estimates have been used since 1982 and been peer reviewed favorably several times in the decade since.

Still, Rosenberry said it would help if reporting rates increased substantially.

“It would certainly make my job easier — or at least that one part of it,” he said.

How to accomplish that is the issue.

Surveys indicate that the main reason hunters don't report taking a deer is that they forget, Rosenberry said. Or, having forgotten initially, they fear doing it after the specified 10 days believing that they'll get in trouble, he said.

That's not the case; biologists use any reports they receive right up until the end of the last deer season, he added.

Putnam wondered if changing the rules to require hunters to take a deer within 24 hours of killing it would increase compliance. Rosenberry said another option might be to give hunters until 10 days after the last deer season to report.

The commission can't make either change, said Cal DuBrock, director of the agency's bureau of wildlife management. It's up to state lawmakers to change reporting rules, he said.

In the meantime, the commission needs to make hunters better understand the existing rule, Putnam said.

“People ask us all the time, ‘Why don't you make reporting mandatory?' Well, it is mandatory. Reporting is not optional,” Putnam said.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.