Hunters and trappers in the northeast can expect a few new opportunities when it comes to bears and fishers.
During its quarterly meeting last week in Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania Game Commission board gave preliminary approval to expand bear season in several Wildlife Management Units in the northeast, including 3B, 3C and 3D (Dec. 2-7); and 4C and 4E (Dec. 4-7). The additional opportunities are in response to a rise in bear nuisance complaints and a low harvest in some of the WMU's, such as 3B which had an 8 percent harvest last season out of an estimated population between 2,500 and 3,000.
The 2013 statewide bear seasons are the statewide five-day archery bear season (Nov. 18-22) and the four-day statewide bear season that will open on Saturday, Nov. 23, and then continue on Monday through Wednesday, Nov. 25-27.
In other moves (final approval must be given at the board's April meeting):
• The board gave preliminary approval to expand fisher trapping into WMU's 3D and 4E. The fisher trapping season runs from Dec. 21-26 and all licensed furtakers may obtain one permit.
• A three-day (Dec. 26-28) snowshoe hare season for WMU's 3B, 3C and 3D was given preliminary approval. In the rest of the state the season length will be five days (Dec. 26-Jan. 1).
• A motion to move up the start of squirrel season passed, making the opening day Sept. 7 for junior and mentored youth hunters and Sept. 14 for all other licensed hunters.
• Motions to change all WMU's back to the concurrent antlered and antlerless rifle deer season, allow small game hunting on Christmas Day and order a review on an age limit for the Mentored Youth Program did not pass.
• Hunters and trappers – particularly those setting vacations for this fall and winter – also are advised that several seasons will open or run about a week later in 2013-14 to accommodate calendar swings – related to the timing of Thanksgiving – that occur about every seven years.