HARRISBURG – The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will open nearly 1 million acres of state forests and parks to deer hunters this year through a Game Commission program that helps to curtail damage to forests and better manage white-tailed deer populations.
DCNR’s participation in the Deer Management Assistance Program, or DMAP, marks the eighth year state forests and parks have been opened to hunters for harvesting antlerless deer. This year, 15 of DCNR’s 20 state forest districts and 21 of 117 state parks will be enrolled in the program, according to DCNR Secretary John Quigley.
“By focusing DMAP antlerless harvests in 15 of our forest districts and some of our state parks, hunters can help balance deer populations with available habitat and promote healthy forests and healthy deer while enjoying quality hunting opportunities,” said Quigley. “As they have since 2003 when DCNR first began DMAP participation, our biologists and foresters relied on detailed surveys and management plans to select areas where increased hunter participation would benefit forested habitat.”
Of the 930,464 acres DCNR enrolled in the program for 2010, 89,596 are in state parks. The agency also received 13,898 permits for this year, meaning hunters with the DMAP tag may harvest that many does from the enrolled state lands this year. Last year, the agency sought and received 16,653 permits for 917,008 acres.
As it has each year, DCNR adjusted its DMAP-enrolled lands based on habitat conditions. For 2010, the Buchanan, Cornplanter, Tuscarora, Weiser and William Penn state forest districts will not be enrolled in the program because reduced browsing pressure, improved forest regeneration and other factors have negated the need for additional doe harvests.
DCNR’s DMAP strategy this year also takes into account shortened antlerless deer seasons in eight Game Commission Wildlife Management Units; concurrent seasons will not be offered in WMUs 2G, 2D and 4B in the north-central, western and south-central Pennsylvania, respectively, and in central Pennsylvania WMUs 2C, 2E, 3C, 4D and 4E.
“Our DMAP areas provide hunters an additional week of antlerless hunting opportunities in these WMUs,” Quigley noted. “This is an advantage for hunters who can only make it to camp or to hunt certain areas the first week of the season. Utilizing DMAP allows them to maximize their hunting opportunities.”
Meanwhile, State Forester Daniel Devlin noted state forest and park managers have tried their best to apply DMAP in a way that improves forest habitat conditions.
“We remain committed to using DMAP as effectively as we can to promote forest health and provide additional opportunities to hunters,” said Devlin. “Always paramount in DCNR’s use of DMAP has been the belief that deer are an integral part of a healthy forest ecosystem and a tremendous asset for the state. In areas where we have seen decades of overabundance, the DMAP program can serve as a tool to help those areas recover.”
State park DMAP hunting areas can be found this year at: Bald Eagle, Centre County; Beltzville, Carbon County; Blue Knob, Bedford County; Canoe Creek, Blair County; Codorus, York County; Cook Forest, Clarion County; Gifford Pinchot, York County; Hickory Run, Carbon County; Keystone, Westmoreland County; Kings Gap, Cumberland County; Moraine, Butler County; Nescopeck, Luzerne County; Ohiopyle, Fayette County; Oil Creek, Venango County; Presque Isle, Erie County; Prince Gallitzin, Cambria County; Raccoon Creek, Beaver County; Ricketts Glen, Luzerne County; Ryerson Station, Greene County; Shawnee, Bedford County; and Tobyhanna, Monroe County.
Hunters no longer will apply at forest district or park offices, or on the DCNR website. Instead, permits can be obtained directly from license issuing agents or the Game Commission Web site.
Applicants for DMAP permits can find DCNR tract locations and maps, availability numbers, past hunter success rates, and other information at www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/dmap/ .