Hunters are reminded that with the new Saturday-Sunday opening weekend to the firearms deer season, the extended bear season began Monday, Nov. 30 in any WMU where the season is held.
The extended bear season is held in most of the state, but it’s not held in every WMU. And there are different season lengths in different WMUs.
In WMUs 1B, 2C, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 5A, the extended bear season runs from Monday, Nov. 30 through Saturday, Dec. 5. In WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D, the season runs from Monday, Nov. 30 through Saturday, Dec. 12. No extended bear season is held in WMUs 1A, 2A, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G or 2H.
To participate in the extended bear season, a hunter needs a general hunting license, as well as a bear license. In periods where the extended bear season overlaps portions of the firearms deer season, properly licensed hunters may also harvest deer.
Fluorescent orange requirements for the extended bear season and firearms deer season are identical.
CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE
Chronic wasting disease was first detected in Pennsylvania in 2012. To help prevent the spread of CWD, the Game Commission created Disease Management Areas where specific regulations apply.
Currently there are three DMAs. They are:
DMA 2 was established in 2012 and now covers approximately 7,470 square miles, an expansion of 755 square miles over last year. For 2020 biologists expanded it west into Westmoreland County as the result of a CWD-positive adult female roadkill deer, northwest into Cambria and Indiana counties as the result of CWD-positive captive deer facilities and north into Centre County and Mifflin, Union, and Snyder counties as the result of two CWD-positive adult male roadkill deer. DMA 2 currently includes all or parts of Indiana, Cambria, Clearfield, Centre, Union, Snyder, Blair, Huntingdon, Mifflin, Juniata, Perry, Cumberland, Westmoreland, Somerset, Bedford, Fulton, Franklin, and Adams counties.
DMA 3 was established in 2014 and now covers approximately 1,233 square miles, an expansion of 114 square miles over last year. For 2020 biologists expanded it southwest into Jefferson, Indiana, and Armstrong counties because of a CWD-positive yearling male road-killed deer. DMA 3 now covers portions of Jefferson, Clearfield, Indiana, Armstrong, and Clarion counties.
DMA 4 was established in 2018 and now covers approximately 746 square miles, an increase of 397 square miles over last year. For 2020 biologists expanded it further south into Lancaster County after detection of a captive deer with CWD. It now covers portions of Berks, Lancaster, and Lebanon counties.
For the specific boundaries of each DMA, check the Game Commission’s website – www.pgc.pa.gov.
New for this fall are eight CWD Deer Management Assistance Program, or DMAP, units within the DMAs. Hunters can get additional antlerless deer permits specific for each.
They all surround the spot where a CWD-positive deer was found, far away from any previously known infected deer. The Game Commission is asking hunters who harvest deer any of these units to submit the heads for testing, to determine if the previously detected CWD-infected deer was an outlier or a symptom of a bigger problem.
DMAP permits can be purchased online or from any issuing agent and are valid during any open antlerless deer season. Details on remaining tags are available at https://www.pgcapps.pa.gov/Harvest/DMAP.
Hunters harvesting deer within a DMA may not export deer parts deemed to have a high-risk of spreading CWD from the DMA. The head – specifically the brain, eyes, tonsils and lymph nodes, spinal cord and spleen are considered high-risk parts. In addition, hunters harvesting deer in CWD-positive states or provinces cannot import these high-risk parts into Pennsylvania. Once high-risk parts are removed, hunters can export the remaining meat on or off the bone, cleaned capes, cleaned skull plates with antlers, and finished taxidermy mounts from the DMA.
Hunters can dispose of high-risk parts through their curbside trash service or in dumpsters provided by the Game Commission. Locations of dumpsters can be found on the Game Commission’s website – www.pgc.pa.gov.
Hunters may take their harvested deer to any processor or taxidermist within the DMA. In some cases, cooperating processors and taxidermists just beyond the border of a DMA can accept deer from a DMA. A list of cooperating processors and taxidermists is available on the Game Commission’s website – www.pgc.pa.gov.
Hunters who take deer within DMAs can have their deer tested – free of charge – for CWD, and at the same time help the Game Commission fight this deadly disease.
The Game Commission has installed large metal bins for the collection of harvested deer heads within DMA 2, DMA 3 and DMA 4. The bins, which are similar to those used for clothing donations, keep contents secure and are checked and emptied regularly through the deer-hunting seasons.
All deer heads brought to the white-colored head-drop-off bins must be lawfully tagged, with the harvest tag legibly completed and attached to the deer’s ear and placed in a tied-shut plastic bag. The head can be bagged before being brought to the bin, or hunters can use the bags provided at bins.
Once submitted for testing, deer heads will not be returned to hunters. Hunters wishing to keep antlers should remove them prior to submitting. Hunters will be notified of disease testing results within six weeks. Hunters who harvest deer outside a DMA can make arrangements with the Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System if they want their deer to be tested. There is a fee associated with this testing. More information about this process can be found online at http://padls.agriculture.pa.gov/.
In addition to heads deposited in bins, the Game Commission will be collecting heads from processors throughout the state for CWD surveillance. However, hunters should not assume a deer taken to a processor will be tested for CWD.
Chronic wasting disease is always fatal to deer and there is no vaccine or cure. The disease is spread by deer-to-deer contact and through the environment. Although there is no known case of it being transmitted to humans, the Game Commission and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend people do not consume meat from deer that test positive for CWD.
For more information on CWD, drop-off dumpsters and rules applying within DMAs, visit the Game Commission’s website.
As of Nov. 5 of this year, the Game Commission received 4,241 deer for CWD testing. Hunters provided 1,575 of those, with the rest coming from roadkills and other sources. Fifty-one deer tested positive for CWD, with results from 802 samples still pending.