Deer hunting opportunities are at the top of the list for Pennsylvania hunters.
Pennsylvania residents are urging the state Game Commission to increase opportunities for hunters to harvest deer as a result of the abundance of whitetails observed this year.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission held its annual winter meeting Sunday. According to the Lancaster Newspaper, instead of the commissioners hearing from "throngs of dissatisfied hunters complaining about a lack of deer," as has occurred in the past, almost all who spoke "called for more opportunities to kill more deer."
The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) reported "a tremendous amount of deer damage" to crops in a survey sent to bureau members, said Jeff Grove, PFB local affairs director.
Pennsylvania normally opens its firearm deer season the Monday following Thanksgiving, but Grove asked the commission to reconsider for the 2014-2015 season. Instead, Grove recommended opening the season either the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Grove reasoned moving the date would help curb the crop damage, as well as provide more opportunities to get youth involved in hunting.
Grove recommended the state try the new season date in at least one of Pennsylvania's 23 Wildlife Management Units, to gauge how well it may work.
Among those interested in increasing deer hunting opportunities were several representatives from timber companies and land managers who agreed the deer population is growing.
Ed Carter with the Collins Pine Co. pointed to an increase in car collisions in the state as a sign deer populations are actually increasing.
According to CBS Philly, "deer collisions have risen about 11-percent in Pennsylvania...over the past few years."
The board will vote tomorrow on the structure of Pennsylvania's hunting season for 2014-2015, after also hearing from state biologists.
After the initial vote, the public has a two-month window to review the proposed season dates and bag limits, and the commissioners will make a final vote in April.