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Connecting YOU with Wildlife – Pennsylvania Game Commission

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State Game Lands Tours


Those looking to gain perspective into Pennsylvania’s wildlife, habitat and hunting heritage will have several opportunities in the coming weeks to take one or more tours being offered by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Sunday driving tours of several tracts of state game lands across the Commonwealth are planned for Oct. 5, Oct. 12 and Oct. 19. The tours of state game lands provide an opportunity to talk to the personnel directly responsible for managing and protecting game lands, and four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended for those taking driving tours on some tracts.

Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough said the tours provide an opportunity to show the public the many things being accomplished for wildlife and for Pennsylvania’s hunters. With autumn nearly here the tours should provide a splash of color and some of the best scenery the Commonwealth has to offer. The state game lands system has a long history in Pennsylvania. The Game Commission in 1919 was granted authority to purchase lands for the protection, propagation and management of wildlife, and provide areas for public hunting and trapping. With few exceptions, state game lands were purchased using revenues from hunting and furtaker license sales. Today, tracts of state game lands exist in all but Philadelphia and Delaware counties. Collectively, game lands make up a land base greater in size than the state of Delaware. Information on the tours is as follows:


  • Bedford and Blair counties: Sunday, Oct. 12, from noon to 3 p.m., State Game Lands 26, which encompasses 12,062 acres in a four-county area. This popular tour highlights mountainous terrain and fall foliage. The 7-mile, self-guided auto tour begins at the parking area on the northeast side of Route 869, between Pavia and Beaverdale, and concludes near the village of Blue Knob. Tour participants can scan the scenery for mounted wildlife specimens strategically placed along the route, as well as identification tags placed on examples of tree and shrubs beneficial to wildlife. Game Commission personnel will be on hand to answer questions relating to Game Commission programs and activities.


  • Berks and Schuykill counties: Sunday, Oct. 19, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A vehicle tour of State Game Lands 110, which encompasses nearly 10,150 acres of historical, scenic and recreational property. The nine-mile trip will begin at the agency’s parking lot on Mountain Road, midway between the Shartlesville exit of Interstate 78 and Route 61. The tour will exit onto Route 183, north of Strausstown. Game Commission officers will be on hand to answer questions relating to Game Commission programs and activities. Also please note that due to the previously announced construction project on Ellendale Forge Road, the State Game Lands 211 tour will not be held this year. State Game Lands 211 is in Dauphin and Lebanon counties.


  • Bradford County: Sunday, Oct. 5, State Game Lands 12, from 10:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. (rain or shine). This is a 28-mile, self-guided, circular driving tour through State Game Lands 12, and will take about two hours to complete. State Game Lands 12 consists of nearly 24,480 acres in Bradford County. The route will start at the game lands parking lot on top of Wheelerville Mountain on state Route 154, just south of Canton, Bradford County. Roads are passable for most vehicles, four-wheel drive is not needed but a good ground clearance is advised. The route travels east to the Barclay Cemetery, then down the hill to Laquin before turning west onto the railroad grade to Wheelerville. The tour ends at the intersection with state Route 154 in Wheelerville. From there, those on the tour can travel north on state Route 154 to Canton, or south to Shunk in Sullivan County. The tour goes by Sunfish Pond County Park so a picnic lunch may be the order of the day! Those taking the tour are sure to find the local history of the mountain and the Game Commission’s refuge system is intriguing. A pocket guide full of historical information and photographs will be provided to each vehicle at the start of the tour.


  • Cambria County: Sunday, Oct. 19, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., State Game Lands 108, consisting of 23,086 acres. This 7.5-mile, self-guided, one-way, driving tour will highlight mountainous terrain and fall foliage on the Allegheny front. Items of interest along the tour route include a rehabilitated strip-mined area, which has been converted to small-game habitat. The area also serves as a study area for grassland nesting birds, including the Henslow’s sparrow, a grassland species of special concern. Northern harriers and endangered short-eared owls also inhabit the study area. Also highlighted are tree and shrub identification, wildlife habitat food plots and a deer exclosure fence. Each tour participant will be provided a brochure with directions and information about features along the tour route. The tour begins at the game lands access road three-tenths of a mile north of Frugality, along state Route 53, in White Township. Watch for the sign. The tour will conclude on state Route 865, near Blandburg in Reade Township. Game Commission land management, forestry, wildlife management, and law enforcementpersonnel will be on hand to explain the various habitat improvement projects on this state game lands, and to answer questions.


  • Carbon County: Sunday, Oct. 5, State Game Lands 141, which consists of nearly 17,048 acres. Registration will be held from 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at the large parking lot along state Route 93 on State Game Lands 141, Nesquehoning Township. Game Commission personnel will be on hand to explain various points of interest, including wildlife habitat-improvement projects. Four-wheel-drive vehicles with high clearance are recommended for this 9-mile, self-guided driving tour.  The tour will begin at the large parking area on the east side state Route 93 and travels east on a game lands road toward the Lehigh Gorge State Park, and back to state Route 93, exiting at the parking lot across from the game lands shooting range. The tour will pass habitat-improvement projects completed by the game lands Food and Cover Corps crew located in Carbon County, along with the National Wild Turkey Federation, The Nature Conservancy, and the Ruffed Grouse Society. Representatives from the Game Commission and conservation organizations will be on hand to explain the projects and answer questions. Directions: Take state Route 93 north from state Route 209 and proceed 3.5 miles and turn right into the parking lot. Proceed through the gate on a dirt road. Each vehicle will be provided a map and brief explanation of wildlife and habitat management programs being carried out on this magnificent tract of public hunting land.


  • Elk County: Sunday, Oct. 12, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., State Game Lands 311. Start at the state game lands gate at the end of Dewey Road on Winslow Hill. For more information, contact the Game Commission Northcentral Region Office at 570-398-4744.


  • Luzerne and Wyoming counties: Sunday, Oct. 5, State Game Lands 57, which consists of nearly 44,600 acres. Registration to be held from 7:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at the headquarters building complex on State Game Lands 57, Ricketts Station, Forkston Township, Wyoming County. Game Commission personnel will be on hand to explain various points of interest, including wildlife habitat-improvement projects. Four-wheel-drive vehicles with high clearance are required for this 30-mile, self-guided driving tour. The tour will pass habitat-improvement projects completed by the State Game Lands 57 Food and Cover Corps crew, along with the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Quality Deer Management Association and Ducks Unlimited. Representatives from the Game Commission and conservation organizations will be on hand to explain the projects and answer questions. Directions: Take state Route 487 north from state Route 118 and proceed 7.5 miles. Turn right onto the dirt road near the game lands sign on the right. Travel 0.1 miles to “Y” intersection and proceed 0.3 miles to the headquarters complex. Each vehicle will be provided a map and brief explanation of wildlife and habitat-management programs being carried out on this magnificent tract of public hunting land.

In addition, on September 28, the Game Commission will host tours on each of its four game farms.

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Waterfowl and Migratory Bird Season Information

Are you searching for waterfowl and migratory bird season information? See the summary below.

Ducks Seasons and Bag Limits

North Zone: Ducks, sea ducks, coots and mergansers, Oct. 11-Nov. 29, and Dec. 23-Jan. 10.
South Zone: Ducks, sea ducks, coots and mergansers, Oct. 18-25, and Nov. 15-Jan. 15.
Northwest Zone: Ducks, sea ducks, coots and mergansers, Oct. 11-Dec. 13, and Dec. 27-Jan. 1.
Lake Erie Zone: Ducks, sea ducks, coots and mergansers, Oct. 27-Jan. 3.
Total Duck Bag Limits: 6 daily, 18 in possession of any species, except for the following restrictions: daily limit may not include more than 4 mallards including 2 hen mallards, 2 scaup, 1 black duck, 3 wood ducks, 2 redheads, 1 canvasback, 2 pintails, 1 mottled duck, 1 fulvous whistling duck and 4 scoters. Possession limits are triple the daily limits.
Mergansers: 5 daily, 15 in possession (not more than 2 hooded mergansers daily, 6 hooded in possession).
Coots: 15 daily, 45 in possession.
Duck Zone Boundaries:
Lake Erie Zone – Lake Erie, Presque Isle and the area within 150 yards of the Lake Erie shoreline.
Northwest Zone -
The area bounded on the north by the Lake Erie Zone and including all of Erie and Crawford counties and all of Mercer and Venango counties north of I-80.
North Zone - The area east of the Northwest Zone and north of I-80 to Route 220, north from I-80 to I-180, north and east of I-180 from Route 220 to I-80, north of I-80 from I-180 to the Delaware River.
South Zone - All of state not in the Lake Erie, Northwest and North Zones.

Canada Goose Seasons and Bag Limits
This includes white-fronted geese. All of Pennsylvania will have a regular Canada goose season, however, season lengths and bag limits will vary by zone as follows:

All of Pennsylvania except for the Southern James Bay Population and the Atlantic Population zones. The season is Oct. 25-Nov. 29, Dec. 18-Jan. 15, and Feb. 2-28, with a 5-goose daily bag limit; 15-goose possession limit.
The area north of I-80 and west of I-79 including in the city of Erie west of Bay Front Parkway to and including the Lake Erie Duck zone (Lake Erie, Presque Isle and the area within 150 yards of Lake Erie Shoreline). The season is Oct. 11-Nov. 29 and Dec. 15-Jan. 23, with a 3-goose daily limit; 9-goose possession limit.
The area east of SR 97 from Maryland State Line to the intersection of SR 194, east of SR 194 to intersection of US Route 30, south of US Route 30 to SR 441, east of SR 441 to SR 743, east of SR 743 to intersection of I-81, east of I-81 to intersection of I-80, south of I-80 to New Jersey state line. The season is Nov. 15-29 and Dec. 15-Jan. 26, with a 3-goose daily limit; 9-goose possession limit. Exception: The controlled hunting areas at the Middle Creek WMA and all of SGL 46 in Lebanon-Lancaster counties has a daily bag limit of one, and possession limit of three during the regular Canada goose season.

September Canada Goose: Sept. 1-25; 3 daily, 9 in possession (SJBP zone); 8 daily, 24 in possession (rest of state); exceptions:

1.) In the area south of SR 198 from the Ohio state line to intersection of SR 18, SR 18 south to SR 618, SR 618 south to US Route 6, US Route 6 east to US Route 322/SR 18, US Route 322/SR 18 west to intersection of SR 3013, SR 3013 south to the Crawford/Mercer County line. The daily bag limit is 1, possession limit 3; except on SGL 214 where the season is closed to September goose hunting.
2.) Canada geese may be taken on Pymatuning State Park Reservoir and an area to extend 100 yards inland from the shoreline of the reservoir, excluding the area east of SR 3011 (Hartstown Road). The daily bag limit is 3, possession limit of 9.
3.) In the area of Lancaster and Lebanon counties north of the Pennsylvania Turnpike I-76, east of SR 501 to SR 419, south of SR 419 to Lebanon-Berks county line, west of Lebanon-Berks county line and the Lancaster-Berks county line to SR 1053 (also known as Peartown Road and Greenville Road), west of SR 1053 to Pennsylvania Turnpike I-76, the daily bag limit is 1, possession limit 3; except on SGL 46 (Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area) where the season is closed.
Note: Exceptions 1 and 3 do not apply to youth participation on youth waterfowl days, when regular season regulations apply. Hunting hours for all migratory birds, including Canada geese, close at sunset on youth waterfowl days.

Youth Waterfowl Days: Statewide: Sept. 20; also in North and Northwest zones, Sept. 27; in Lake Erie Zone, Oct. 18; and in South Zone, Nov. 8. Refer to PGC website for more details.

Brant (All Zones): Oct. 18-Nov. 21, 2 daily, 6 in possession.

Light Geese (Snow Geese and Ross’ Geese) Seasons and Bag Limits
Atlantic Population Zone:
Regular: Oct. 1-Jan. 26, 25 daily, no possession limit. Conservation Hunt: Jan. 27 – April 24; 25 daily, no possession limit.
Southern James Bay Population Zone:
Regular: Oct. 1-Jan. 23; 25 daily, no possession limit. Conservation Hunt: Jan. 24 – April 24; 25 daily, no possession limit.
Resident Population Zone:
Regular: Oct. 28-Feb. 28; 25 daily, no possession limit. Conservation Hunt: March 2 – April 24; 25 daily, no possession limit.

Harlequin Ducks, and Tundra and Trumpeter Swans: No open season.

Webless Migratory Bird Seasons and Daily Bag Limits

Species Season Daily Limit
Doves * Sept. 1-Nov.15
Nov. 22-Nov. 29
Dec. 27-Jan. 1 15
Woodcock Oct. 18-Nov. 29 3
Common snipe Oct. 18-Nov. 29 8
Virginia and sora rails ** Sept. 1-Nov. 8 3
(The season for king and clapper rails is closed.)
Gallinules Sept. 1 -Nov. 8 3

* Dove season hunting hours are noon to sunset for Sept. 1-25 and 1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset for Sept. 26 – Nov. 15 as well as for the second and third segments.
** Bag limits singly or combined.
Possession limit is triple the daily bag limit.
Refer to PGC website for further details and regulations.

For information on falconry migratory game bird hunting seasons refer to the PGC website at

Licenses Required, in addition to a Pennsylvania hunting license, to hunt ducks and geese:
Persons 16 and older – Federal Duck Stamp, signed in ink across its face, and Migratory Game Bird License (HIP).
Persons 12 through 15 – Migratory Game Bird License (HIP).
A valid Migratory Game Bird License (HIP) is also required to hunt other migratory game birds, including doves, woodcock, coots, gallinules, rails and snipe. If you purchased a HIP license last year, be sure to provide your last year’s migratory game bird harvest results when asked. By answering these questions you will be entered into a pool of hunters from which samples for federal harvest surveys are drawn. Your responses to the questions improve efficiency and the quality of the information used to monitor the harvest of migratory birds for management purposes.

Voluntary PA Duck Stamp – Helps finance wetland acquisition and development and waterfowl education.

Band Reporting: online at, or call TOLL-FREE, 1-800-327-2263.

More details can be found here. Always consult the Hunting & Trapping Digest as well.

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Hunting for Information?

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Do you want hunting information, Game Commission news, educator resources, and watchable wildlife updates delivered to your inbox? Subscribe to one of our e-mail lists!

Each person on the e-mail subscription list will be entered into a weekly drawing for a gift card to Cabela’s or Field and Stream!

1.  HOW TO ENTER: No purchase necessary. Subscribe for free to any Pennsylvania Game Commission email list for your chance to win a $100 Cabela’s or Field & Stream Gift Card. Subscribe using the form below.

2.  PRIZES: Two $100 gift cards will be awarded each week for the duration of the contest from Sept. 1 to Dec. 17, 2014. The first two winners will be drawn on Wednesday, Sept. 10 and will be notified via email. Retail value of each prize package is $100. Each prize package consists of one (1) $100 to Cabela’s or Field and Stream. Gift cards for Cabela’s are valid towards any purchase at any Cabela’s store or online at their website. Gift cards for Field and Stream are valid at any Field and Stream store. Prizes must be accepted as awarded, and have no cash surrender value. Gift cards may be used for multiple purchases on multiple days, but cash refunds will not be provided. Field & Stream Stores and DSG of Virginia, LLC, Cabela’s, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission are not responsible for any lost or stolen cards.

3.  DRAWING: Each valid email address subscribed to any Pennsylvania Game Commission email list serve shall constitute a valid entry and will be automatically entered for a chance to win. Existing email list serve subscribers automatically qualify for the drawing as well. Limit one (1) entry per person. One (1) email address will be selected randomly as winner each Wednesday during the duration of the contest, beginning Sept. 10. Limit one (1) prize package per person. Pennsylvania Game Commission personnel are not eligible to win. Drawing void where prohibited.

4.  WINNERS: Winners will be contacted by email, and will be required to call the Pennsylvania Game Commission headquarters at 717-787-4250 x 3627 to collect their prize. Winners will be required to show valid photo ID when claiming prizes in person.

5.  CLAIMING PRIZES: Prizes will be mailed to winners or can be picked up by winners at 2001 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg, PA. In the event that a prize goes unclaimed for six (6) weeks, the Pennsylvania Game Commission reserves the right to reclaim the prize, and a further drawing will be held.

6.  SUBSCRIPTION: By subscribing for this list, you are permitting the Pennsylvania Game Commission to contact you with information regarding hunting, shooting, wildlife watching and other relevant topics. By regulation, your name will not be released to any other entity and will be used solely for the purpose to engage and promote these topics. You may opt-out and unsubscribe from these lists at any time.

Subscribe to a Pennsylvania Game Commission e-mail list for your chance to win here:

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What to Do When Approached by a Wildlife Conservation Officer

Each year Pennsylvania wildlife conservation officers (WCOs) check thousands of hunters, trappers and game land users for compliance with wildlife laws. These officers enforce laws intended to keep people safe, protect personal property and conserve Pennsylvania’s wildlife resources. 

A compliance check by a wildlife conservation officer is an opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts to have positive interactions with officers while in Penn’s woods. Officers can explain laws and describe outdoor opportunities and conditions in the surrounding area.

These are things that you can do to help ensure your experience with an wildlife conservation officer is a positive one:

While Hunting:

Wildlife conservation officers check hunters for firearm safety and compliance with hunting regulations. When approached by an officer, you are expected to follow all basic firearms handling rules.

  • DO NOT attempt to load or unload your firearm while being approached by an officer.
  • Point the muzzle of your firearm in a safe direction away from the approaching officer.
  • Make sure your safety is on. Keep your finger away from the trigger.
  • Comply with all instructions directed to you by the officer.

While Driving:

Wildlife conservation officers may stop motor vehicles at checkpoints used for gathering statistics and enforcing wildlife laws. In addition, officers have the authority to stop motor vehicles for violations observed on Pennsylvania’s highways.

An officer may direct a stop of the vehicle either by signaling a stop with a body gesture or through the use of emergency lights and/or siren. Wildlife conservation officers will identify themselves while in uniform or by providing a badge or state law enforcement officer credential.

When signaled to stop by a wildlife conservation officer please do the following:

  • As soon as safely possible, bring your vehicle to a complete stop and allow the officer to approach you. Failure to stop for an officer may result in criminal prosecution, significant fines and arrest.
  • Be courteous and follow any directions given by the officer pertaining the vehicle inspection. Your cooperation will expedite the inspection process.

You can help make your interactions with wildlife conservation officers positive by having a courteous attitude. By promptly complying with all requests as directed by the officer, you can help ensure a safe, pleasant and productive experience. You can also take advantage of the opportunity to ask the officer for advice and valuable tips.

-This text has been adapted from Warden Courtesies with permission from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife.

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Private Landowner Assistance Program


I have a tract of land that I want to use to help wildlife, but I don’t know how to manage it.

A team of Pennsylvania Game Commission biologists is ready to assist you in making your property more attractive for wildlife, particularly species of greatest conservation need. They even make house-calls!

What is the Private Landowner Assistance Program?

In May of 2004, the agency created a Private Landowner Assistance Program, which is available to property owners who own a minimum of 10 acres of land. The Game Commission’s goal is to improve Pennsylvania’s landscape for wildlife species of special concern through developing detailed plans for interested landowners. Species of Greatest Conservation Need include rare and uncommon songbirds, hawks, owls, eagles and some mammals such as bats, black ducks and American woodcock.

Although the plans focus on species of concern, a wide variety of species often benefit from these habitat plans. This program is custom-made for landowners who are interested in creating, preserving, or enhancing wildlife habitat.

What is the first step to get my property in this program?

Contact the regional wildlife diversity biologist serving your county. After a short interview, the biologist will send the interested property owner a landowner objective survey. After reviewing the survey, the biologist will visit the property and landowner. A detailed plan will be developed based upon the biologist’s findings and landowner’s chosen level of involvement.

How much does the program cost?

There is no fee associated with the landowner assistance program, nor is there a public access requirement!

To learn more about this program visit:


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Deer Coat Color Variations


Deer that aren’t brown often get a lot of attention.  There are several conditions that can produce non-brown coloration in deer:

Albinism is the result of reduction of melanin production only.  It is inherited through recessive gene alleles.  Melanin helps to protect the skin and eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.  This leaves these animals very sensitive to overexposure to sunlight increasing their risk of melanomas and retinal damage.  As a result, they usually die at an early age.

Leucism is a condition characterized by reduced pigmentation also caused by recessive alleles.  However, it is caused by a reduction in all types of skin pigment, not just melanin.

Piebald is partial leucism resulting in irregular patches of white on an animal that otherwise has normal color and patterning.

Melanism is the result of excessive production of melanin resulting in darkening of skin, fur or feathers.  It is rarer than albinism.

Both albino and leucistic animals have white hair and pink skin; however, eye color is the key.  Due to the lack of melanin in the retinal pigmented epithelium and the iris, albinos usually have red eyes due to the underlying blood vessels showing through.  Leucistic animals have normal or blue colored eyes.


Most of the reports we receive about “albino” deer are actually piebald.  With the millions of genetic combinations that occur when deer breed, piebald deer are rare but widely documented throughout the range of the whitetail. Usually, they are reported at rates under 1% in the population. Limited observations indicate normal and piebald deer cross produce both normal and piebald offspring. This rate can increase if piebald deer are protected, making the genes for this condition more common in the population.

Pinto Deer, an article from Myths & Legends of the Whitetail, discusses this as well.

By: J.T. Fleegle,

Game Commission Wildlife Biologist, Deer & Elk Management Section

Photo: Sherry Sparks


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