HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania trappers looking to participate in the upcoming cable restraint trapping season (Jan. 1-Feb. 18) now can begin signing up to take the mandatory certification courses being offered by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Developed by the Game Commission and the Pennsylvania Trappers Association, course listings have been posted on the agency's website (http://www.pgc.state.pa.us) under the "Calendar of Events" section in the left-hand column of the homepage. On Jan. 25, the Board of Game Commissioners gave final approval to permit certified trappers to use specific cable restraint devices for coyotes and foxes from Jan. 1 until the end of the annually established trapping season. Cable restraints of one form or another are legal in 41 states and all 12 Canadian provinces. Under the new trapping option, licensed trappers will be required to complete a certification course to use cable restraints. Agency-certified trapper instructors will conduct the four-hour course. The cost of the course is $15. Students will receive various education materials and one legal cable restraint, and a permanent certification card will be mailed following completion of the class. All cable restraints must be equipped with at least one swivel device to allow any captured animal to have 360-degree, unobstructed movement around the anchor point to prevent entanglement. The regulation also specifies that cable restraints may not be placed near a fence or other obstruction, such as a bush or exposed root system, which would permit the animal to entangle itself. Also, all cable restraints are required to have a "deer stop" installed at eight inches circumference to allow deer to simply step out of the device if accidentally caught. The cable restraint must include a breakaway device that enables animals larger than a fox or coyote to escape. The maximum circumference of the cable may not be greater than 38 inches when fully open, or less than 8 inches when fully closed. "After studying reports about the safe and efficient use of cable restraints to capture coyotes and foxes, we believe that Pennsylvania should offer its furtakers the opportunity to use this device to manage these two species in the Commonwealth," said Dr. Matthew Lovallo, Game Commission furbearer biologist. "When used properly, cable restraints have a great track record of holding captured animals without mortalities and with few injuries. "By limiting the timeframe in which they can be used from Jan. 1 until the end of the trapping seasons in mid-February, we are further reducing potential conflicts with free-roaming dogs and cats." Lovallo noted that the move to allow the use of cable restraints in Pennsylvania was based on data collected during one of the most ambitious research projects in the history of wildlife conservation -- the development of Best Management Practices for Trapping in the United States (BMPs). "These BMPs identify techniques, traps and cable restraints that address the welfare of trapped animals and allow for the efficient, selective, safe and practical capture of furbearers," Lovallo said. "The studies were designed following the science-based field testing protocols used and perfected by the furbearer resources technical work group of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies." In 2001 and 2002, cable restraints were field-tested by experienced local trappers during legal trapping seasons in Wisconsin and Missouri. Specimens taken in Wisconsin by cable restraints were sent to wildlife veterinary pathologists at the University of Wyoming, who used international trap testing guidelines to examine the animals for trap-related injuries. The performance of cable restraints was rated very high for effectiveness and they were found to be very humane. "Because of the concerns for safety of hunting dogs and free-roaming dogs and cats, the Game Commission has discussed the legalization of cable restraints with dog owners and dog hunting clubs," Lovallo said. "We believe that those discussions have helped dispel some of the rumors and misconceptions about cable restraints." The Pennsylvania Trappers Association (PTA) stepped forward to assist the Game Commission in developing and conducting the special certification classes for those licensed furtakers interested in being permitted to use cable restraints. "Cable restraints are another tool in the trappers' arsenal to help alleviate problems caused by coyotes and foxes," said Rod Zullinger, PTA president. "Wildlife managers are in full support of the cable restraints and this will certainly open up a new avenue for Pennsylvania trappers." GAME COMMISSION DRAWS BOBCAT PERMITS FOR UPCOMING SEASON HARRISBURG -- The Pennsylvania Game Commission, with assistance from several interested observers, today publicly drew by computer the names of 615 individuals who each will be awarded one bobcat permit for the upcoming 2005-06 hunting and trapping season. The drawing was held at the agency's Harrisburg headquarters today at 10 a.m., and lasted until 10:30 a.m. After a review of the 4,648 applications received for the drawing, the Game Commission disqualified 40 individuals for failing to follow instructions, including mailing in multiple applications and bounced checks. Of the 4,608 eligible applicants in the drawing, an additional 20 applications were drawn as alternates in case any of the first 615 individuals are declared ineligible during an application review by the Bureau of Law Enforcement. Those selected in today's random drawing will receive one permit for no additional charge to either hunt or trap one bobcat. The hunting season will run from Oct. 15- Feb. 18. The trapping season will run from Oct. 16- Feb. 18. Top counties for those receiving bobcat permits are: Lancaster, 43; Berks, 36; York, 35; Lycoming, 29; Tioga, 29; Bradford, 28; Luzerne, 27; Westmoreland 21; Clearfield 18; and Montgomery, 17. Also, 16 of those drawn were women. Hunting and trapping bobcats is restricted to Wildlife Management Units 2C, 2E, 2F, 2G, 3A, 3B, 3C and 3D. A statewide map of the WMUs, as well as a series of maps of each WMU, appears on pages 43 through 46 of the 2005-2006 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations. In 2000-01, when the first bobcat hunting and trapping seasons in 30 years were held, 290 permitted hunters and trappers took 58 bobcats. In 2001-02, 520 permitted hunters and trappers harvested 146 bobcats; in 2002-03, 545 permitted hunters and trappers harvested 135 bobcats; in 2003-04, 570 permitted hunters and trappers harvested 140 bobcats; and in 2004-05, 615 permitted hunters and trappers harvested 196 bobcats.
SOURCE PA Game Commission