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Updates From Recent PA Game Commission Meeting

One of the topics discussed at the recent PA Game Commission meeting was the possible reintroduction of martens back into Pennsylvania.

A marten is a weasel-like furbearer ranging in length from 19-27 inches and weighing 1-3 pounds. They have brownish-black hair down the back and tail with a yellowish-orange bib on the throat that can stretch down to the chest. In winter, a whitish/gray color stretches under and down the chin, but in summer, that area turns chocolate/brown. The marten has short legs and a narrow body, somewhat like a mink.

Like minks and fishers, the marten is also an excellent tree climber.

A marten’s diet consists of mammals, birds, vegetation, insects, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, but they mostly prey on voles, shrews, and mice.

Once common in our state, the marten disappeared from Pennsylvania over 100 years ago, but in recent years, the PA Game Commission has been considering a reintroduction plan. The Commission staff developed an American Marten reintroduction and management plan outlining a ten-year strategy to translocate the marten back to the state. The plan includes long-term monitoring to evaluate the reintroduction.

When the program was first introduced, it was soon followed by some debate. In September, the plan was put out for public comment, and nearly 1,000 people responded, with the majority being supportive. However, a Game Commission survey of nearly 9,000 hunters produced different results, with 37 percent approving of the plan, 32 percent opposing it, and 31 percent coming in neutral. I suspect that among the hunting crowd, there was some concern as to what effect the marten’s eating habits would have on our game animals. For now, the reintroduction has been tabled with a split vote of 6-3, but it may well be reconsidered in the days to come and possibly even by this fall.

Another topic that was discussed at the recent meeting was the very controversial changing of the first day of buck season from the first Monday after Thanksgiving to the first Saturday after Thanksgiving. This change took place in 2019, but there were many who did not favor it. According to some surveys that I read, it appears that the younger hunters tended to favor the change while those in their 50s and older were opposed since it disrupted the normal tradition of going to camp under the old system. It also appears that several businesses have suffered losses due to the change. For now, it’s still a Saturday opener, but my guess is the topic will come up again in future meetings.

Well, that’s some of the latest news from the PA Game Commission’s last meeting. I’m sure there will be more topics of interest in the days to come. In the meantime, it is now fishing season, but I hope to work in some turkey hunting as well.