Finally, the PGC moves into the 21st century:
HARRISBURG — The Board of Game Commissioners today approved a regulatory change that moves the agency one step closer to being able to accept deer and turkey harvest report card information online or through a toll-free telephone system.
“The Game Commission looks forward to being able to offer hunters a more convenient method of reporting deer and turkey harvests,” said Vern Ross, Game Commission Executive Director. “However, for the upcoming spring gobbler season, we urge hunters to complete and mail in their harvest report cards within 10 days of taking a wild turkey.”
“In addition to making it more convenient for hunters to report harvests, we hope to see reporting rates improve. The new process will reduce our cost to have harvest report card data entered, and nearly eliminate the money we spend on postage for the current harvest report card system.”
Ross noted that the agency spends about $150,000 annually to cover postage and handling of harvest report cards for deer and turkey.
In order to make the online reporting system work properly, Ross noted that the Game Commission must first implement a point-of-sale licensing system, which would create a database of license buyers. When going online to report a harvest, the agency’s system would be able to cross-reference the hunter’s report with their license.
However, implementation of a point-of-sale system is dependent upon additional revenues. The current estimate for implementing point-of-sale is a one-time fee of $2 million.
“Besides fulfilling our goal of making the agency and its programs more user-friendly, point-of-sale will enable us, after all of these years, to have a computer database of all of our license buyers,” Ross said. “Such a database will make it easier and more cost-effective to conduct hunter surveys in the future, as well as cross-reference our systems for maintaining disabled person permits for hunters and our lists of those on license revocations.”
Ross noted that it took a change in state law to permit the Game Commission to pursue this customer-friendly method of reporting deer and turkey harvests. When the General Assembly re-codified the Game and Wildlife Code in the mid-1980s – long before the Internet was launched – lawmakers required that hunters complete “the report card supplied with the hunting license for reporting big game killed and shall mail the report card” to the agency within 10 days. With advancements in technology, this one word in state law prevented the Game Commission from taking advantage of those advancements.
On Nov. 30, Gov. Rendell signed into law House Bill 2326, sponsored by Rep. Keith Gillespie (R-York). The new law amends the Game and Wildlife Code (Title 34) to enable the Game Commission to establish the method of reporting deer and turkey harvests.
House Bill 2326 passed the House unanimously on April 14, and passed the Senate unanimously on Nov. 19.
Under the Game Commission’s Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP), which provides hunters with a permit to harvest an antlerless deer, the agency was able to take advantage of online reporting since it involved reporting the harvest of a deer by using a permit rather than a license. On Oct. 2, the Game Commission began accepting harvest report cards by mail and through the Internet from antlerless deer harvested with a DMAP permit.
To file a DMAP antlerless deer permit harvest report online, hunters should go to the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), click on “DMAP” in the “Quick Clicks” box in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage, and then click on the underlined portion of the opening paragraph. Hunters will need to fill in: their application number, DMAP unit number, coupon number, and birth date; the date of the harvest; the Wildlife Management Unit, county and township of the harvest; and what type of sporting arm they used. DMAP permits only may be used to take antlerless deer, however, hunters still will need to identify whether the deer was male or female. Hunters also can report that they did not harvest a deer by checking a box at this site.
Under DMAP, all hunters are required to submit a harvest report card, even if the hunter did not take a deer. This is being done so the Game Commission can measure the effectiveness of the program, which is designed to address specific deer management objectives within the state’s new wildlife management units.
Hunters who still have not filed a DMAP report are strongly encouraged to do so, even though the original reporting deadline has passed. Those who received DMAP permits and have not submitted a report by June 30, will be ineligible to participate in the DMAP program for the 2005-06 seasons.