Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Program Marks Habitat Improvements on Gamelands

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Program Marks Habitat Improvements on Gamelands

Article excerpt

Going deer hunting? The state Game Commission has your trip all mapped out.

In a new program, tracts of the 1.5-million-acre state game lands system that have recently been timbered or improved for habitat growth will be marked with green and yellow placards designating the site as a Deer Hunter Focus Area. Printable maps of those tracts are available for free at www.pgc.state.pa.us.

"Some of the best places to hunt deer on state gamelands are in remote, often mountainous, areas where forest-management practices have opened the canopy to promote increased plant growth," said Dave Gustafson, Game Commission chief forester, in a written statement. "However, these areas often are in remote destinations, some distance from roads open to public travel. That's where this new program intends to help hunters. Our goal is to guide hunters [to] within a half-mile or less of gameland locations where deer are taking advantage of these habitat improvements."

White-tailed deer have a broad browse range stretching to more than 5 feet from the ground. They eat a lot - each deer consumes about 1 ton of browse per year. They're constantly in search of fresh nutritious shoots emerging from the soil. In many parts of the state, the Game Commission and state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources go to great lengths to stop deer from disrupting plant regeneration-it's one of the determining factors in setting seasons and harvest regulations. Deer quickly will find places where prescribed conservation burns and logging have left the ground primed for rebirth, and the Focus Area program is intended to show hunters where to find those spots.

"By getting hunters into these areas, we can keep deer numbers in balance with available food, and the land can continue to provide for deer there, making these places ideal hunting spots for years to come," Gustafson said. …

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