When Pennsylvania hunters and trappers line up June 19 to purchase 2017-18 licenses, they should be aware of changes implemented since last year.
The new licenses become valid July 1. After that date, all who hunt, trap or apply for an antlerless deer license must have an up-to-date 2017-18 license to do so.
One noticeable change is that the full regulations digest will no longer be provided for free at the time licenses are purchased. Instead, license buyers will receive a complimentary pocket-guide that contains general hunting regulations, hunting hours, fluorescent orange requirements, a map of the Wildlife Management Units, and season dates and bag limits.
License buyers can view and print the full digest online.
Printed digests are available for $6 each and sold over-the-counter at Game Commission Region Offices and Harrisburg headquarters. When purchased elsewhere, the digests will be mailed directly to license buyers.
Eliminating free digests to all license buyers is a significant savings in printing expense. The decision is motivated by the agency’s financial situation, according to Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans.
“These kinds of reductions in services are necessary as the Game Commission approaches nearly two decades without an increase in the cost of a general hunting or furtaker license,” Burhans said. The Game Commission doesn’t receive tax money from the state’s general fund; funding comes primarily from the sale of licenses and the fees are set by the General Assembly.
The fiscal climate also is behind another significant change in 2017-18 – the requirement for all adult and senior pheasant hunters to purchase a permit.
In recent decades, pheasant hunting in Pennsylvania has been possible only through the release of farm-raised pheasants, and the Game Commission’s pheasant propagation program annually has raised and released about 200,000 pheasants for hunting statewide. The popular program costs about $4.7 million annually.
To lower program cost, last year the Game Commission closed two of four pheasant farms and reduced the 2017-18 statewide pheasant allocation to 170,000 pheasants.
By creating a pheasant permit, the Game Commission established a mechanism to help fund the pheasant program, giving hunters a chance to sustain the program rather than see it vanish.
Pheasant permits are required for all adult and senior hunters, including senior lifetime license buyers. Junior hunters do not need a pheasant permit to hunt or harvest pheasants. A pheasant permit costs $26.90, and is required in addition to a general hunting license.
General hunting licenses and furtaker licenses each cost $20.90 for Pennsylvania residents, $101.90 for nonresidents. Resident senior hunters and furtakers ages 65 and older, can purchase one-year licenses for $13.90, or lifetime licenses for $51.90. For $101.90, resident seniors can purchase lifetime combination licenses for hunting and furtaking privileges
Seniors will still need to purchase archery licenses for archery deer season, bear licenses to pursue bruins, and permits to harvest pheasants, bobcats, fishers or river otters.
A complete list of licensing requirements can be found online.