For The Tribune-Democrat
Hunting and furtaker licenses for the 2012-13 seasons will go on sale June 11, according to Carl G. Roe, the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s executive director.
Licenses will be available through the Game Commission’s Pennsylvania Automated License System (PALS), over-the-counter at all Game Commission region offices and the Harrisburg headquarters, as well as the more than 600 in-state and out-of-state issuing agents. Licenses also are available through the PALS website Roe also emphasized senior lifetime hunting and furtaker license holders, as well as senior combination license holders, must renew their licenses at this time. While senior lifetime license holders need not pay a license or transaction fee, they must obtain the current year’s license and harvest tags.
While the 2012-13 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest regulations booklets won’t be available until the week of June 18, a complete version of the publication will be posted on the agency’s website. Those who purchase their licenses prior to delivery of the digests can return to the issuing agent of purchase and obtain a copy once the digests arrive in the store.
For the 2012-13 license year, all fees are the same as they have been since 1999. There is a 70-cent transaction fee attached to the purchase of each license and permit, which is paid directly to Active Outdoors, the Nashville-based company that runs PALS. Returning PALS customers are encouraged to provide their Customer Identification Number (CID) to speed up processing.
“PALS enabled the game commission to modernize the licensing system and improve security,” Roe said. “To ensure faster processing, personal information is now recorded through a Pennsylvania driver’s license scan. This eliminates data entry; provides a more secure, reliable and accurate means to gather and store license holder records; and eliminates license buyer duplicity.
“For all these reasons - and more - the game commission has eliminated paper applications. Nonresidents can purchase licenses through any of these venues, but the system cannot scan out-of-state driver’s licenses.”
Roe noted that all license-issuing agents now are part of an integrated, real-time, cyber network that allows them to offer some specialty licenses that prior to 2009 could not be provided by all issuing agents under the old license system.
“All license agents now can issue senior lifetime licenses; reduced fee military licenses; Mentored Youth Hunting Program permits; elk drawing applications; bobcat and fisher permits; even resident landowner reduced-fee hunting licenses and Deer Management Assistance Program Harvest (DMAP) permits,” Roe said. “Hunters also can purchase the special spring gobbler license, which allows them to harvest a second gobbler in the 2013 spring gobbler season.”
There are certain deadlines for some of these licenses and permits that hunters and trappers will need to keep in mind. Specifically, the deadline to purchase a bobcat or fisher permit is Dec. 14; and a 2013 second spring gobbler license is April 26.
Bear licenses must be purchased by Nov. 16 in order to participate in the early bear seasons and the statewide firearms bear season; but licenses will go on sale again from Nov. 22 to 25 for those seeking to participate in the extended bear seasons that run concurrent with all or portions of the first week of the firearms deer season in certain areas of the state.
Also, the application deadline to be in the public drawing for a 2012 elk license is Aug. 26; the public drawing will be held on Sept. 14.
“Hunters and trappers need to remember these deadlines if they’re not purchasing these licenses or permits when they buy their general hunting or furtaking licenses,” Roe said. “Otherwise they may miss their opportunity to purchase one of these licenses or permits before the deadline passes.”
Roe also noted, as originally envisioned by the U.S. Congress and the Pennsylvania General Assembly, PALS enables the agency to suspend issuing licenses to those, who through court order, have had their hunting license privileges revoked for failure to pay child support.
Roe reminded hunters that, under state law, only Pennsylvania County Treasurers may issue antlerless deer licenses. However, thanks to PALS, county treasurers now may issue an antlerless deer license for any WMU, so long as its allocation isn’t sold out.
Applications for the regular round of antlerless deer licenses for residents begins July 9, and nonresidents can apply beginning July 30. An antlerless license application will be printed with every general license purchased, and an application also will be available in the 2012-13 Hunting and Trapping Digest for the first and second round of unsold antlerless deer licenses. The first round of unsold antlerless licenses will begin, for residents and nonresidents, on Aug. 6, and the second round of unsold antlerless licenses will begin on Aug. 20.
Except for Wildlife Management Units (WMU) 2B, 5C and 5D, hunters may only apply for one license during each application period. Hunters applying for antlerless licenses in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D may apply for an unlimited number of antlerless deer licenses - however, the longstanding limit of three applications per envelope remains in effect.
“Hunters must use pink envelopes to mail antlerless deer license applications to the county treasurer’s office of their choice to process the applications and mail back antlerless deer licenses,” Roe said. “Hunters will have the option of listing their first, second and third WMU preferences for doe licenses on their applications. Treasurers will fill the highest WMU preference listed by the hunter. This option will eliminate reapplication for a doe license if your first WMU preference - or second - is sold out. However, hunters do not need to list alternative WMUs if they only plan to hunt in one specific WMU.”
A list of the mailing addresses for the 65 county treasurer offices that issue antlerless deer licenses is included in the 2012-13 Digest, which is provided to each license buyer. (NOTE: Philadelphia and Lehigh counties have opted out of issuing antlerless deer licenses.) More details on the new procedures for applying for a doe license can be found in the Digest, which will be posted in the right-hand column of the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) by June 11.
A change in state law removed the requirement that hunting licenses be displayed, so licenses can be folded and placed into a wallet along with a secondary form of identification, which is required of all hunters and trappers.
Licenses are printed on a yellow strip of 2.5-inch by 3.5-inch, water-resistant, tear resistant material. The harvest tags are attached to the license and are preprinted with a hunter’s name and address, and have perforated holes to make it easier to attach to the carcass of the harvested animal.
Roe reminded hunters that the Game Commission accepts online harvest reports for deer, wild turkey, bobcat and fisher. In addition to reporting deer and wild turkey harvests within the prescribed time limits, those who possess a DMAP, bobcat or fisher permit are required to report, regardless of whether they harvested an antlerless deer, bobcat or fisher, respectively. Each online harvest report costs the Game Commission 50 cents.
Hunters and trappers also can use the agency’s toll-free telephone reporting system. The Interactive Voice Response (IVR) harvest reporting system telephone number is 1-855-PAHUNT1 (1-855-724-8681).
“This is one more way that the Game Commission is doing its part to make it easier for license buyers to report their required harvests and help the agency better manage wildlife,” Roe said. “We have found that harvest reporting rates have been declining for years, and we’re hoping hunters and trappers take advantage of this new system and become more active in wildlife management.
“Hunters who use the toll-free number to submit a harvest report will receive a confirmation number. They should write down this number and keep it as proof of reporting.”
Roe noted that hunters should have their Customer Identification Number (hunting license number) and field harvest tag information with them when they call, and that multiple harvests can be reported in a single call. He also stressed callers should speak clearly and distinctly when reporting harvests, especially when providing the Wildlife Management Unit number and letter.
A hard-copy of the postage-paid report card still will be available in the 2012-13 Digest, but the agency is hoping hunters will report online or via the toll-free telephone system to save on the cost of postage and data entry. Using these reporting methods also will ensure a harvest report is not lost in the mail.
Waterfowl and migratory game bird seasons are not included in the 2012-13 Digest, as those seasons won’t be established until mid-August. Once seasons are set, the Game Commission will post the annual Guide to Migratory Game Bird Hunting brochure on the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us). However, applications and directions for the public drawing to waterfowl hunting blinds in the controlled hunting areas at the Game Commission’s Pymatuning and Middle Creek wildlife management areas are in the 2012-13 Digest.