Pennsylvania Game News - January 2011 - 18
Develop and enforce laws and regulations to protect wildlife populations and habitat.
The Bureau of Wildlife Protection continues to work toward its mission of protecting Pennsylvania’s wildlife through law enforcement, seeking effective legislation and developing regulations. Thanks to the passage of House Bill 1859, penalties for poaching were substantially increased. Under the Bill, poaching big game and threatened and endangered species have been graded as misdemeanor and felony offenses, similar to the grading of theft offenses in the Crimes Code. This equity is important, because now the theft of wildlife by poaching will be treated similarly to the theft of any other property. Senate Bill 1200, which also passed, allows Pennsylvania to become a member of the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact, along with now 38 other states, and facilitate reciprocal license revocation for major offenses. We are pleased to also report the courts have been applying the enhanced restitution costs that took effect last year. In three cases, courts assessed trophy class restitution of $5,000. One for a 707-pound bear killed over bait, another for an antlered deer that scored more than 140 Boone and Crockett Club points killed at night, and another for a 16-point buck that was the 14th largest ever scored in Pennsylvania, all stolen from law abiding hunters by poachers. In addition, several courts assessed $800 restitution for non-trophy class deer, and various restitutions for other species of wildlife. Other regulation revisions include: prohibiting the use or possession of drug paraphernalia on State Game Lands; removing the one-way travel limitations and replacing it with an open travel allowance; allowing persons who previously hunted a controlled goose hunting area to apply for an unclaimed blind; and authorizing the Executive Director to bid on real estate, oil, gas or mineral rights at auction or tax sales. Amendments were made to exempt menagerie permit holders who possess a USDA Class C Exhibitor permit from possession and importation prohibitions. Small game regulations were restructured to promote consistency and clarity and to permit the use of crossbows to expand opportunity and increase participation in small game hunting. Amendments were made to remove the two body-gripping traps per trapper limitation in WMU 1B, and to establish a December 26 date as the opening date for using cable restraints. Other revisions authorize county treasurers to begin selling antlerless licenses over the counter on the first Monday in October; clearly define the permitting process for persons interested in guiding other hunters or trappers for designated species; authorize political subdivisions to apply for an agricultural deer control permit; met the new federal falconry standards and simplified, reorganized and enhanced current state falconry regulations; updated and implemented the restructured permitting process for bobcats and fishers; defined and implemented the special elk conservation license auction and license issuance process, and defined important geographical terms, and authorized the use of unfilled elk licenses to be used to harvest elk anywhere within the commonwealth outside of the elk management area during any extended elk season following the regular elk season. A 29 percent increase in the number of deputy applicants occurred this fiscal year, and all passed their exams and were sworn in before the 2010 hunting seasons. To reduce their out-of-pocket costs, the agency continues to supply deputies with surplus
18 GAME NEWS