State: Pheasant permit will be needed for next hunting season

Adult and senior hunters in Pennsylvania who pursue pheasants will need to purchase a pheasant permit in addition to a general hunting license in the 2017-18 license year. Junior hunters will not need a permit.

The state Board of Game Commissioners on Tuesday gave final approval to creating a pheasant permit that would be required for all adult and senior hunters who pursue or harvest pheasants.

The permit will cost $25 for adults and seniors, including senior lifetime license holders.

It is projected to generate about $1.5 million a year in new revenue.

While Pennsylvania once was home to a robust wild pheasant population, in recent decades, pheasant hunting has relied entirely upon the stocking of farm-raised birds.

The Game Commission annually has raised and released about 200,000 pheasants for release on state game lands and other properties where public hunting is permitted. While the program has been popular with hunters, it has been costing the agency about $4.7 million a year. And without a permit, there’s no funding mechanism in place to help sustain it.

Meanwhile, fees for general hunting and furtaker licenses haven’t been adjusted for inflation since 1998, leaving the Game Commission in recent years to make difficult financial decisions, including budget reductions to the pheasant program.

In December, the agency announced it would close two of its four pheasant farms — a move that is expected to reduce annual program costs by about $1.7 million.

By making the program more self-sufficient, creation of a pheasant permit helps to ensure the future of pheasant hunting in Pennsylvania, the commissioners said.

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