The group also heard from sportsmen and others regarding the deer population during its quarterly meeting Sunday in Harrisburg.
About five hours of testimony was heard during the public comment period that opened the Commission’s three-day meeting at its headquarters at 2001 Elmerton Ave.
About a dozen people, who described themselves as members of the Coalition of Pennsylvania Avicultrists, testified in opposition to a proposal the Game Commissioners are considering that would prohibit the importation, possession, sale or release of Monk Parakeets and the Nanday Conure, also known as the Black-hooded Parakeet.
All strongly opposed the proposed regulations, which were recommended by the agency’s staff, “in response to human health, safety and wildlife habitat health purposes,” the Commission’s meeting agenda reads. The agenda does not make clear what those concerns are and commissioners did not comment in response to testimony.
Among those offering testimony in defense of the birds were several veterinarians, including Dr. Paul Miller, who questioned why the bird was being considered a threat to people or wildlife by the agency.
“The Nanday Conure is very popular and well established in American aviculture,” he said. “The Nanday Conure does not pose any threat to the native wildlife of this state, or to the environment. Feral Nandays occur only in Florida and California, but in no other states.”
He said the birds rely heavily on humans to take care of them and would not be able to survive in the northern climate of this state, or be able to establish a wild population.
“These parrots do not adapt to the environment here well at all,” Miller said. “They would not be able to survive the winter.”
He also said the conures, which are captive-bred birds, should not be considered wildlife, but as domesticated pets and should not be regulated as wildlife.
Two people who said they were in the business of selling such birds said the measure also would hurt their business and worried about further regulation of other species that might be enacted in the future.
Commissioners also heard from sportsmen still frustrated about the deer populations in their areas.
One hunter urged the Commission to let the deer populations grow more.
“I will not continue as a deer hunter if the current trend continues,” he said.
“Please let the deer herd heal itself by not hunting does for a couple of years. I can promote the healing of the outdoors by not purchasing a hunting license.”
Phil Wagner, who said he was from Union County, said if he were a defense lawyer he would present evidence in defense of the deer.
“In soil tests on the Bald Eagle State Forest, I found a pH of 4.16, more than 1,000 times normal acidity,” Wagner said.
“We hunted 15 days and finally saw our first deer on Jan. 5,” he complained to commissioners. He also told the board that he saw plenty of acorns in the woods, but still saw no deer and asked why that was the case. He also cited a hunter satisfaction survey run by a newspaper in which nearly 80 percent of those who responded said they saw fewer deer during the 2007-08 seasons.
Several hunters said they would support a hunting license fee increase to bring the Game Commission “back to full strength in enforcement and programs.”
One hunter said he was throwing in the towel.
“This is the last time you’ll see me here,” Terry White said.
“In the last four years, I bought 23 doe tags and got rid of them as soon as I got them to save some does. But this is the last time, I’ve been defeated ... We hear about QDM — quality deer management, is what they said. But quick doe massacre is what they meant instead.”
Youth hunting opportunities also were topics of discussion from several who testified, including members of the Governor’s Youth Advisory Council on Hunting, Fishing and Recreation, who asked the board to consider expanding the Mentored Youth Hunting Program to include small game hunting.
Ryan Becker and his father, John, both urged the Game Commission to expand the program into rabbit hunting.
“Please consider allowing youth hunting for rabbits with dogs,” Ryan said. “I ask for you to take a look at it and come hunting with us.”
John Becker said he and his son are members of the Susquehanna Valley Beagle Club and the Beagle Gun Dog Association. He said seeing youth rabbit hunts in Vermont convinced him it would work in this state.
“It is a thrill to see a 9-year-old try to get a shot at a rabbit,” Becker said. “You just can’t explain it, but it is a thrill to see.”