Significant changes in hunting rules and regulations for Ohio and Pennsylvania hunters were approved last week.
Regulations and season dates were set for the 2002 hunting season when the Ohio Wildlife Council met Wednesday.
Among the changes in Ohio are new deer hunting zones, a five-week extension of the fall turkey season for archery hunting and an increase in the squirrel hunting bag limit. The OWC also gave its OK to a revised list of Ohio's endangered wildlife species, including removal of the North American river otter from the state list.
Keystone State: In Pennsylvania, the board of game commissioners approved the 2002-03 season hunting rules and regulations Tuesday. They include antler restrictions for deer hunting, a second elk hunt, expanded bear hunting opportunities in the Pocono Mountains and a youth pheasant hunt.
The significance of the antler restrictions is that hunters in specific areas will have to be aware of the number of antlers on the deer they are pursuing.
The Pennsylvania restrictions are as follows:
UIn a 10-county area of western Pennsylvania, hunters will be required to abide by a four-point-on-one-side antler restriction. Those counties are: Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Crawford, Erie, Indiana, Lawrence, Mercer, Washington and Westmoreland;
UIn the six Special Regulations Areas counties of Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia, hunters will be able to abide by the previous antler restrictions of one antler of three or more inches in length or one antler with at least two points;
UIn all other counties, hunters will be required to abide by a three-point-on-one-side antler restriction.
Otter change: In Ohio, meanwhile, the changes in endangered status for the river otter is the culmination of years of reintroduction efforts for the fur-bearing mammal.
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, the river otters are found in 52 counties and are known to be reproducing in at least 10 watersheds. Reintroduction efforts began by the ODNR's Division of Wildlife in the Grand River area in the early and mid-1980s.
Also having their status changed were barn owls, dark-eyed juncos, hermit thrushes, least bitterns and yellow-crowned night-herons, moved from endangered to threatened status; sedge wrens were moved from endangered to a species of concern while Canada warblers, little blue herons, magnolia warblers, northern waterthrushes and winter wrens will be moved from endangered to special interest status.
Turkey hunters who successfully bag an Ohio gobbler will be able to buy a additional turkey permit to hunt a second turkey. Previously, turkey hunters had to purchase a "double permit" if they thought they might want to hunt a second bird. Ohio's spring turkey seasons opens April 22.
In the fall, hunters who have a new five-week archery-only turkey season Oct. 28-Dec. 1, following the Oct. 12-27 regular fall turkey hunting season. Added to the roster of turkey hunting counties were Ashland, Richland and Scioto counties.
Deer zones: Changes in Ohio deer zones include Zone R, a fourth deer hunting zone made up of 10 western and northwestern Ohio counties as a way for the DOW to better management deer populations.
The DOW puts the breakdown in zones as follows:
Zone R: Hunters will be allowed one deer of either sex during archery or primitive seasons, or during the first two days of the statewide gun season or a buck only during the last five days of the gun season.
Zone A (35 counties): one deer of either sex;
Zone B (19 counties): no more than two deer, of which only one can be an antlered deer;
Zone C (24 counties): no more than three deer, of which only one could be an antlered deer.
As usual, hunters must have the correct permits. Only one antlered deer is allowed no matter which zone, method of hunting or season.
For the remaining Ohio deer zones, archery season will be Oct. 5 through Jan. 31, 2003, and Ohio gun season runs Dec. 2-8.
Permit costs are as follows: $20 for tags to be used on either an antlered or antlerless deer during any season or at a controlled hunt anywhere in the state and $10 for urban deer permits that are to be used only for antlerless deer taken in urban units or at special controlled hunts.
The deer permits must be bought by hunters before they can buy and use an urban deer permit. The DOW rules stipulate that urban deer units will remain the same with the bag limit of four additional deer unchanged.
Statewide, the primitive weapon season will run Dec. 27 through 30 for deer of either sex. There will also be a special area primitive hunt Oct. 21-26 at Salt Fork, Shawnee and Wildcat Hollow state wildlife areas for antlered deer only.
Another change hunters should be aware of is an increase in squirrels from four to six.
More information on these changes and other aspects of either state's game laws can be viewed at www.ohiodnr.com/wildlife/ for Ohio and at www.pgc.state.pa.us/ for Pennsylvania.