Hunters Face New Antlerless Deer License Process

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Beginning Aug. 4, Pennsylvania hunters will have an unprecedented opportunity to apply for antlerless deer licenses that will permit them to hunt more territory than ever. This marks the first time the Pennsylvania Game Commission will issue antlerless licenses using a system that isn't based on the state's 67 counties since it began selling them 80 years ago.

In addition, hunters, for the first time since 1952, will not send their antlerless license applications directly to county treasurers. Rather, they will mail them to the Game Commission via 22 different Post Office boxes. The agency, in turn, will forward them to county treasurers for processing.

"Although a lot has changed, much of the application process remains the same," noted Vern Ross, Game Commission executive director. "Hunters just need to follow directions and mail their applications to the Game Commission using the provided mailing labels. It's really not going to be that difficult."

Some of the changes in the application process include: hunters are applying to hunt in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) now, not a specific county; applications are mailed to the Game Commission, not county treasurers; pre-printed mailing labels are provided to affix to the application evelope; and the application envelope is now yellow, not pink.

The Game Commission has developed an "Antlerless License Update" page on its website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) to provide hunters additional information about the changes in the antlerless license application process and updates on available antlerless licenses once sales begin. Information on the website will be updated weekly beginning Aug. 7; sell-outs for wildlife management units will be posted immediately. Look under "Hot Topics" on the agency's homepage.

"With the new WMUs in place for this year's deer seasons, hunters will no longer be restricted to unmarked, political county boundaries when hunting antlerless deer," Ross said. "Antlerless licenses will be issued for WMUs, which are defined by easy-to-recognize geographical boundaries - such as major roads and rivers - rather than political lines on a map that can't be seen in the field."

Ross emphasized that, as required by state law, county treasurers will continue to issue antlerless deer licenses. Except for the "over-the-counter sales," county treasurers will receive applications from the Game Commission for a percentage of a WMU's total antlerless license allocation based on the county's representation in the WMU.

Ross also noted that hunters will be mailing their applications to the Game Commission in yellow, rather than pink, envelopes. The envelope contains pre-printed address labels for each of the 22 Post Office boxes established for each of the state's new 22 WMUs. Anyone with the old pink envelopes should discard them.

"The new mailing labels and bar coding have been incorporated to speed up the processing of applications," Ross said. "Hunters should ensure that the label is securely placed on the envelope before mailing it. If it appears that the label is not affixed properly, the U.S. Postal Service will allow applicants to use transparent tape over the label to secure it to the envelope."

The Game Commission will begin accepting antlerless license applications through the mail from residents on Monday, Aug. 4; nonresident applications will be accepted through the mail starting Monday, Aug. 18. The Game Commission will begin accepting resident and nonresident hunter applications through the mail for the first round of unsold licenses on Monday, Aug. 25; and the second round will be accepted through the mail beginning Monday, Sept. 8.

Over-the-counter applications will not be accepted by county treasurers until Nov. 3, except in Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5C and 5D, where county treasurers will begin accepting over-the-counter applications on Monday, Aug. 25.

Applying for and receiving more than one antlerless license at a time is against the law and carries a $100 fine. While individuals are permitted to mail up to three antlerless deer license applications in one envelope, the applications must be for different individuals. Hunters may apply for one license during the first round of regular antlerless deer licenses. During the first round of unsold licenses, hunters may apply for a second license. During the second round of unsold licenses, hunters may apply for a third license. The exception to this is when hunters are applying over the counter in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D.

Applications that do not include return postage will be placed in a "dead letter" file maintained by the Game Commission's Licensing Division in the Harrisburg headquarters. Applicants who believe that their antlerless license application may be in the dead letter file may contact the License Division toll-free at 1-877-331-GAME (1-877-331-4263) during business hours of 7:45 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. This line will be activated after Aug. 18.

Regular and first round unsold antlerless licenses will be mailed to successful applicants by county treasurers no later than Monday, Sept. 15. Second and subsequent rounds of unsold antlerless licenses will be mailed to successful applicants by county treasurers no later than Wednesday, Oct. 1.

The Board of Game Commissioners approved the 2003-2004 antlerless deer license allocation of 973,000, which is a decrease from last year's allocation of 1,029,350. Last year, hunters purchased 1,010,693 antlerless deer licenses, which resulted in a harvest of 352,113 antlerless deer.

Following is a listing of the antlerless deer license allocation by Wildlife Management Unit: WMU 1A, 44,000; WMU 1B, 37,000; WMU 2A, 45,000; WMU 2B, 45,000; WMU 2C, 65,000; WMU 2D; 58,000; WMU 2E, 29,000; WMU 2F, 44,000; WMU 2G, 52,000; WMU 3A, 28,000; WMU 3B, 45,000; WMU 3C, 40,000; WMU 3D, 50,000; WMU 4A, 37,000; WMU 4B, 38,000; WMU 4C, 46,000; WMU 4D, 58,000; WMU 4E, 38,000; WMU 5A, 28,000; WMU 5B, 60,000; WMU 5C, 66,000; and WMU 5D, 20,000.

"If the license success rate for each WMU is within five percent, plus or minus, of the past year, we should see an antlerless deer harvest of between 320,000 and 355,000," said Dr. Gary Alt, Game Commission Deer Management Section supervisor. "Overall, the anticipated effect of the deer harvest will be a two percent decrease statewide in the deer herd, which is consistent with our objective of improving the health of the deer herd by bringing it into balance with the available habitat."