HARRISBURG, PA -- Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe has reminded spring gobbler hunters they can take advantage of full-day hunting - from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset - beginning Monday, May 16.
The full-day spring gobbler hours were approved by the Board of Game Commissioners last year, as part of the 2010-11 seasons and bag limits package. Under the change, legal hunting hours from the opening day of the spring gobbler season through the third Saturday (April 30-May 14) are one-half hour before sunrise until noon. However, hunting hours for the remainder of the season (May 16-31) are from one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.
"Although all-day hunting will disturb some nesting hens, the impact will be minimal because all-day hours will cover only the last two weeks of the season," said Mary Jo Casalena, Game Commission wild turkey biologist. "By then, hunting pressure decreases and most hens are in their later stages of nest incubation, at which point they are less likely to abandon their nests if disturbed.
"We anticipate the benefits will far outweigh the minor disturbance of hens, particularly the increased hunting opportunity for all hunters, such as youth and adults who attend school or work during the morning who now will have the option of a late afternoon hunt."
Casalena noted that the Game Commission will monitor the afternoon harvest in relation to population trends and age class of gobblers to gauge the impact of all-day hunting. Of the 49 states that conduct turkey seasons, 34 have all-day hunting for all or part of the season, including Maryland, Ohio and Virginia.
To further expand opportunity, the Board extended the spring gobbler season through May 31. This change was implemented to provide additional recreational hunting without impacting the resource because disturbance of hens would be minimal since most hens would be in their later stages of nest incubation.
Hunters who purchased a second spring gobbler season license may harvest up to two bearded turkeys, one per day.
Roe also reminded spring gobbler hunters that they can add toll-free telephone reporting to the list of methods of submitting harvest reports to the agency. 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.
Other harvest reporting methods will remain in place. They are online reporting through the agency's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) and the use of pre-paid postage cards that appear in the annual Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping digest that is provided free to each license buyer.
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