HARRISBURG, PA – Pennsylvania hunters and trappers soon will be lining up to purchase their 2017-18 licenses, and they need to be aware of some important changes implemented since this time last year.
Hunting licenses for 2017-18 go on sale June 19. The licenses become valid July 1 and, after that date, all who hunt, trap or who want to apply for an antlerless deer license must have an up-to-date 2017-18 license to do so.
One noticeable change for 2017-18 license buyers is that the full regulations digest typically given out when licenses are purchased is not being provided for free this year.
Instead, all 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 who wish to view the full digest can do so online at the www.pgc.pa.gov, or they can opt to purchase a printed digest for $6. Digests will be sold over-the-counter at Game Commission Region Offices and Harrisburg Headquarters. When purchased elsewhere, the digests will be mailed directly to license buyers.
By no longer giving free digests to all license buyers, the Game Commission will save significantly on the cost of printing and mailing hundreds of thousands of digests.
Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans explained this decision is being motivated by the agency’s financial situation, which already has caused the Game Commission to eliminate programs and reduce personnel.
“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.
Unlike most state agencies, the Game Commission doesn’t get a share of tax money from the state’s general fund. Instead, funding comes primarily from the sale of licenses, the fees for which are set by the General Assembly.
A challenging 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 or more for hunting statewide. While the program is a popular one, it doesn’t come cheap, costing about $4.7 million annually in recent years.
Steps have been taken to curtail the cost of the program. The Game Commission last year closed two of its four pheasant farms, and the statewide pheasant allocation for 2017-18 has been reduced to 170,000.
By creating a pheasant permit, the Game Commission has established a mechanism to help fund the pheasant program – giving hunters a chance to help sustain the program rather than see it vanish.
Pheasant permits are required for all adult and senior hunters, including senior lifetime license buyers, who pursue or harvest pheasants. Junior hunters do not need a pheasant permit to hunt or harvest pheasants. Each pheasant permit costs $26.90, and the permit is required in addition to a general hunting license.
General hunting licenses and furtaker licenses each continue to cost $20.90 for Pennsylvania residents and $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 that afford them hunting and furtaking privileges. Like other hunters and trappers, seniors still need to purchase bear licenses to pursue bruins, and permits to harvest pheasants, bobcats, fishers or river otters.
A complete list of licensing requirements can be found at www.pgc.pa.gov.
Burhans thanked hunters and trappers for their enduring support of Pennsylvania wildlife through their annual license purchases.
“At any price, the opportunity to spend days afield in Penn’s Woods, carrying on our hunting and trapping heritage, is invaluable,” Burhans said. “Our pheasant hunters are a great example of that. When we first proposed creation of a pheasant permit, many of them stepped up to say they’d gladly pay $50 or a $100 for their permits that would keep the propagation program going and sustain the opportunity to hunt pheasants in Pennsylvania.
“For more than a century, hunters and trappers have funded the conservation of all the Commonwealth’s wildlife, for all Pennsylvanians, and we owe them a debt of gratitude,” Burhans said. “Their contribution not only has produced some of the best deer, bear and turkey hunting in the nation, it’s helped to create and maintain healthy habitat and preserve a diversity of wildlife that can be enjoyed by all statewide.”