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Final 2020-21 hunting/trapping seasons approved

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners has given final approval to hunting and trapping seasons and bag limits for the 2020-21 license year.

Highlights include:

–Expanding Sunday hunting opportunities on three days – Sunday, Nov. 15 for archery deer hunting, Sunday, Nov. 22 for bear hunting during the bear firearms season, and Sunday, Nov. 29 for deer hunting during the firearms deer season.

— Adopting a 14-day concurrent firearms deer season for antlered and antlerless deer in 10 Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) and retaining a split-season in the remaining 13 WMUs.

— Extending the statewide archery deer season to end Nov. 20, giving bowhunters the opportunity to take advantage of peak and post-rut activity.

–Opening squirrel season statewide on Sept. 12 to create more opportunities for younger hunters to get afield.

–Shifting the statewide general bear season to run from Saturday through Tuesday

— Adding an additional Sunday opportunity for bear hunters.

–Bringing back a three-day Thanksgiving turkey season, running Wednesday through Friday, in select Wildlife Management Units (WMUs); removing the Thanksgiving turkey season in WMUs 1A, 2A, 4A, 4B, 4D and 4E, but making the regular season two weeks (Oct. 31-Nov. 14) instead of one.

–Increasing the bear hunting opportunities for archers by adding a week to the archery bear season and creating an overlap in the first week with the muzzleloader deer and bear seasons.

–Moving the start of the extended bear seasons to Monday of the first week of firearms deer season in all WMUs with extended bear seasons.

–Permitting either-sex pheasant hunting statewide, outside of Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas.

–Opening bobcat hunting and trapping seasons in WMU 2B, and river otter trapping seasons in WMUs 1A, 1B and 2F.

–Increasing the season bag limit for beavers from 40 to 60 in WMUs 1A and 1B.

The commissioners also set the number of antlerless deer licenses to be allocated, as well as the number of elk licenses to be allocated for the coming license year.

The board voted to allocate 932,000 antlerless deer licenses statewide, which is up from the 903,000 licenses allocated for 2019-20.

The board also voted to issue 164 elk licenses (36 antlered, 128 antlerless) across three 2020-21 seasons. For the one-week general season to run Nov. 2-7, 26 antlered and 78 antlerless tags have been allocated. In the archery season open only in select Elk Hunt Zones, to run from Sept. 12-26, 10 antlered and 16 antlerless licenses are available. And there are 34 licenses available for a late antlerless-only elk season to run from Jan. 2-9.

All elk licenses will be awarded by lottery, and hunters must apply separately for all seasons they wish to be eligible to hunt. Each application costs $11.90, meaning a hunter can enter all three drawings for $35.70. Individuals can be drawn for a maximum of one elk license per license year.

Hunting licenses for 2020-21 go on sale in mid-June and become effective July 1. After hunters purchase a general hunting license, they may apply for antlerless deer licenses based on staggered timelines, which will be outlined in the 2020-21 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, to be given free to all license buyers.

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