PGC to consider outlawing deer urine attractants, allow purchase of more doe tags

Brian Whipkey
Pennsylvania Outdoors Columnist

This could be the final year Pennsylvania hunters can pursue deer with natural urine attractants.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission will consider banning the use of lures that contain fluids from deer including urine and saliva at its quarterly board meeting Sept. 24 in Harrisburg.

Some hunters use doe urine to attract deer during the fall mating season.

A seven-point buck still in velvet walks near a trail camera Aug. 30, 2022, in rural Somerset County.  The Pennsylvania Game Commission is considering a ban on the use of deer urine based attactants for deer hunting.

The commission's agenda for the meeting reports the proposal is aimed at reducing the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease, which is fatal to deer. The deer spread the disease through prions found in deer saliva, urine and feces.

The meeting agenda reads, "Deer readily use natural and artificial scrape sites where they can be exposed to CWD prions from the urine and saliva of a CWD-positive animal. Any attractant or circumstance that creates the components of a scrape, whether natural or artificial, increases risk of disease transmission." In addition, the agency reports "The production, manufacturing, and sale of urine attractants is not regulated. Therefore, there is no regulatory requirement or independent authority to test for presence of CWD prions in urine attractants; there is no record of facilities that produce urine attractants; and there is no traceability of these products."

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If approved, the change would be statewide for the 2023-24 hunting seasons. Hunters can still use synthetic versions of the attractants outside of Disease Management Areas. Synthetics and natural attractants are illegal in the Disease Management Areas because the agency doesn't want to congregate deer in these areas.

Another change to be considered at the Sept. 24 meeting involves eliminating the maximum number of antlerless deer licenses a hunter can hold.

The board will consider removing the text of the regulation that limits the number of doe tags that can be purchased by an applicant once unlimited over-the-counter antlerless license sales begin on the second Monday in September each year. Right now the process allows hunters to apply through the mail for up to three licenses at different intervals between July and September. On the second Monday of September, hunters can purchase remaining antlerless licenses over the counter at a county treasurer and possess up to six at any one time.

In 2021, the commission eliminated the personal limit of three antlerless licenses for persons hunting outside of WMUs 2B, 5C, and 5D to increase hunting opportunities when antlerless licenses remained available in a given WMU. Simultaneously, the commission imposed a statewide purchase restriction that effectively limited a person’s ability to apply for a seventh or subsequent antlerless deer license when licenses remained available in that WMU until the hunter used one or more of the six previously issued antlerless deer licenses and reported the harvest(s) to the commission.

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The agency reports the change was intended to focus the issuance of additional doe licenses to hunters who were actually harvesting deer. The commission reports that hunting opportunities outside of WMUs 2B, 5C, and 5D did effectively increase as intended. However, the agency also discovered that hunting opportunities for people within WMUs 2B, 5C, and 5D was subjected to an unanticipated reduction. The PGC staff believes the reduction happened because hunters could not effectively access their local or preferred county treasurers office to purchase additional antlerless licenses over the counter outside of normal business hours, such as on weekends, when their hunting activities are actually occurring.

If approved as worded, a hunter could purchase whatever number of unsold antlerless licenses that are remaining in a Wildlife Management Unit.

The agency is also considering acquiring some properties for public access.

  • The Nature Conservancy is offering about 1,088 acres of land in Shohola Township, Pike County, adjoining State Game Land No. 180. The option price is $2 million.
  • Roaring Spring Borough is offering approximately 1,367 acres of land in Taylor Township, Blair County, adjoining State Game Land No. 147. The option price is $1.2 million.
  • Henry Kanagy (d/b/a H&M Logging) is offering about 264 acres of land in Ridgway Township, Elk County, adjoining and connecting two tracts of State Game Land No. 25. The option price is $340,000.
  • National Audubon Society Inc. is offering to donate three parcels of land totaling roughly 137.3 acres in Lower Frankford Township, Cumberland County and Spring Township, Perry County commonly referred to as Waggoner’s Gap Hawk Watch. The land contains a parking lot, pavilion and small radio tower overlooking into the Cumberland Valley.
  • Central Pennsylvania Conservancy Inc. is offering 78 acres of land in North Middleton Township, Cumberland County, adjoining and connecting two tracts of State Game Land No. 230. The option price is $400 per acre.
  • Rodney Bedow (Blue Ox Timber Resources Inc.) is offering 45 acres of land in Cranberry Township, Venango County, adjoining State Game Land No. 45. The option price is $400 per acre.

The PGC is also considering an oil and gas contract for 3,965 acres of State Game Land No. 36 in Overton and Franklin townships, Bradford County. Bids for this tract were opened on May 26 with Chesapeake Appalachia LLC of Oklahoma City submitting the winning bonus bid of $3,000 per acre. The terms of the agreement are a paid up, five-year, non-surface use oil and gas agreement, a $3,000-per-acre one-time bonus payment and a cost-free 20% royalty. Chesapeake Appalachia has the ability to unitize the commission’s oil and gas reserve by horizontal drilling with no disturbance to the Game Lands surface. The bonus payment of approximately $11,895,000 shall be directly deposited into the Game Fund.

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The board's meeting on Sept. 24 will allow public comments limited to 5 minutes. Registration begins when doors to the Harrisburg headquarters open at 7:45 a.m. The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m.

The agenda is available at the Game Commission’s website, www.pgc.pa.gov. Under “About Us,” on the right side of the homepage, select “Events & Board Meetings,” then click the “September 24, 2022 Agenda” link. The meeting is scheduled to be streamed live following the conclusion of public comments on the agency’s YouTube channel.

Brian Whipkey is the outdoors columnist for USA TODAY Network sites in Pennsylvania. Contact him at bwhipkey@gannett.com and sign up for our weekly Go Outdoors PA newsletter email on your website's homepage under your login name. Follow him on social media @whipkeyoutdoors.