PGC to divide WMU 2G in two
Harrisburg — There was a time last summer when it looked as if Pennsylvania game commissioners might change the boundaries of several wildlife management units.
That didn’t happen.
In fact, at their most recent meeting, commissioners changed the shape of just one of the state’s 22 units. But they tweaked the rules regarding several others, and one other “change” is likely yet coming.
The one unit that was split was 2G, ground zero for so many of the complaints from hunters about there being no deer.
Commissioners kept about 2,900 square miles of what was the eastern side of 2G intact. That mass of land will continue to be known by that name.
The westernmost 1,900 square miles of the unit were carved off, though, and will henceforth be known as unit 2H. The new unit lies east of routes 120 and 555.
The change was made to more accurately reflect differing kinds of habitat on the ground, said Commissioner Dave Putnam of Centre County. Unit 2H is largely a northern hardwoods forest, one that’s more productive for wildlife.
It’s being timbered by private landowners, the Game Commission and the Bureau of Forestry at a much faster rate, he said. Unit 2G – which is heavy on publicly-owned land – is a dry oak heath forest.
The habitat there is worse, and there’s far less timbering of the kind that would improve things going on, he said. As a result, it supports far fewer deer, Putnam said.
With the new boundaries, the commission may be able to increase the herd a bit in the new 2G and stabilize it in the new 2H, Putnam said.
That doesn’t mean the deer herd in 2G will return to what some hunters remember, he cautioned. The habitat is just not there for that, he said.
“But this is a compromise, we think,” added Commissioner Ron Weaner, of Adams County.
Commissioner Ralph Martone, of New Castle, agreed and called the decision to split the unit a “necessary and prudent move.”
When it comes to unit 2B, which surrounds Pittsburgh, commissioners had been thinking of making it smaller, too. The unit had long had a late deer season that ran from the day after Christmas through almost the end of January. It was meant to allow hunters to control deer numbers in urban areas.
Over time, though, it became obvious that hunters were targeting the fringes of the unit to the exclusion of Allegheny County.
To force a change in behavior, without redrawing its lines, they gave preliminary approval to a rules change that eliminates the late season in unit 2B, as well as in units 5C and 5D in southeastern Pennsylvania. It will be replaced with a late season that will only be held in the so-called special regulations counties: Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia.
That means the portion of Allegheny County that lies within management unit 2A will now be included in the late season, while the portions of Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties that remain in 2B will not.
“The intent is to put greater pressure on the special regulations areas and alleviate some of the pressure outside them,” said commission Executive Director Carl Roe. “We’ve been getting more pressure on their outsides than insides, which is where we want more deer taken.”
The change must get final approval in April, but given that it passed by a unanimous vote of the board, that’s thought to be a formality.
It’s then that one other change will likely be seen.
Commissioner Jay Delaney, of Luzerne County, had talked about redrawing the lines for a unit or two in northeastern Pennsylvania, to account for low deer harvests.
Delaney said at the board’s last work group meeting that he will instead try to address the issue using the doe license allocation, which the board will set in April.