HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners voted to increase the agency’s monetary donation to Hunters Sharing the Harvest, ensuring that hunters can continue to donate venison to the state’s hungry without having to pay deer-processing costs.
The board unanimously approved increasing to $55,000 the Game Commission’s 2019 donation to Hunters Sharing the Harvest. The Game Commission for several years has made annual $20,000 donations to the nonprofit organization that routes hunter-harvested ground venison to food banks and soup kitchens statewide, but Hunters Sharing the Harvest asked the board to consider increasing the contribution to offset the program’s rising costs.
Board of Game Commissioners President Timothy Layton said the increase, which was approved by unanimous vote, will go a long way to allow Hunters Sharing the Harvest to continue fulfilling its mission.
The program is more popular than ever, said John Plowman, executive director for Hunters Sharing the Harvest.
The state’s hunters in 2018 set a record with their donation of nearly 150,000 pounds of venison to Hunters Sharing the Harvest, Plowman said.
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners gave final approval to dissolving the Hegins-Gratz Valley Wild Pheasant Recovery Area (WPRA), and adjusting the boundaries on the state’s two remaining WPRAs, based on recommendations within a final report by Game Commission staff about the WPRA project.
The Hegins-Gratz Valley WPRA, which lies within Wildlife Management Unit 4E in Schuylkill and Dauphin counties, was established by the Game Commission in 2010. In 2011, 300 wild pheasants that had been trapped in the western United States were released there in hopes they would take hold and grow into a huntable population.
With few wild pheasants remaining in this WPRA, however, Game Commission staff conceded the goal would not be achieved.
The Game Commission’s ring-necked pheasant management plan calls for dissolving unsuccessful WPRAs so those areas can be reopened to pheasant releases and pheasant hunting. Pheasant releases are prohibited within WPRAs and permit-based youth-only pheasant hunts are permitted only if authorized by executive order of the Game Commission.
Meanwhile, the commissioners also voted to adjust the boundaries of the Central Susquehanna and Franklin County WPRAs, reducing the size of each WPRA to better represent existing populations of wild pheasants.
As part of the measure adopted by the commissioners, the March 1 through July 31 prohibition on dog-training within WPRAs also was lifted, due to the low likelihood of negative impacts from dog training on currently established pheasant populations.