PANWTF Commissioner Comments June 27
Pennsylvania Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation
June 27, 2011
Executive Director Roe, Deputy Director Hough, President Weaner, Commissioners, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Good morning. My name is Skip Motts and I am representing the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. The members of our chapter are proud of the work done statewide by the professional employees of the Game Commission. This year we have invested more than $72,000 of our habitat enhancement budget in projects on state game lands. Our local chapters have wonderful relationships with regional staff and land managers. The habitat management work, law enforcement efforts and research projects funded by the Game Commission have produced premier turkey hunting opportunities for Keystone State hunters. Pennsylvania is a leader in wild turkey conservation and it is our privilege to assist in funding this work.
Senate Bill 274 recently passed the Senate by a margin of 50 to none and the House by a margin of 200 to none. The bill is on Governor Corbett’s desk awaiting his signature. This legislation allows the Board of Commissioners to determine the species of game for which tag transfers or sharing will be established.
The Pennsylvania Chapter has advocated for several years in favor of creating the option for mentored youth to participate in fall turkey hunting. Our members and Board of Directors would like once again to voice our support for the establishment of fall turkey hunting opportunity for mentored youth. We understand the concern about potential for increased fall harvest and therefore favor developing regulations to allow mentors to share their fall tag with a youth hunter. Tag sharing will limit the potential for a dramatic increase in fall harvest associated with an influx of new hunters.
We request that the commissioners develop regulations to make tag sharing possible for the fall 2012 turkey hunting season or earlier so that mentored youth can participate in this great activity.
Fall turkey hunting is often viewed as a mobile type of hunting and does require considerable walking at times. Mentors are required to carry firearms while moving when hunting with mentored youth so there should be no additional safety concerns related to this new opportunity. We believe that fall turkey hunting offers yet another chance to encourage young people to hunt. The future of our hunting tradition depends on young people learning the skills and techniques involved in hunting at an early age.
Education is the key element in maintaining a good safety record among hunters. Our chapter has long been involved in efforts to promote safe turkey hunting. Considerable work was done this spring to promote safety. We are very pleased to know that spring turkey hunters posted a good safety record this spring with preliminary figures indicating a relatively small number of Turkey Hunting Related Shooting Incidents. Even one incident is too many. We will continue to make a concerted effort to promote safe hunting habits among our members and as many non-members as we can effectively reach.
We noted that at the April Board of Commissioners meeting changes were finalized for hunting woodchucks during the spring gobbler hunting season. Our chapter members prefer the woodchuck hunting hours that were in place for the 2011 spring gobbler season for the same reason that woodchuck hunting is not allowed during the firearm deer season- that is, potential for illegal take of wild turkeys.
Thank you for your attention to increasing hunting opportunities. We appreciate the chance to comment on regulations affecting seasons and bag limits and look forward to continuing dialog on important issues affecting our wildlife resources. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to our wild turkey resource.