Game Commission Seeks Public Comment on Draft Woodcock Plan For Pennsylvania

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Game Commission Seeks Public Comment on Draft Woodcock PlanHARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Game Commission is seeking public input for the next 30 days on a draft woodcock management plan, which can be reviewed on the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) by clicking on “Draft Woodcock Management Plan” in the center of the homepage. 

“We are seeking public comment on the draft woodcock management plan to ensure the resulting final management plan considers the thoughts and concerns of Pennsylvanians about this species,” said Calvin W. DuBrock, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Management director.  “As written, the plan is science-based, progressive and promotes responsible management.  We’re interested in hearing from Pennsylvanians who would like to offer comments, and to see if we’ve missed something or if they share our management vision for the future.”

Developed by Bill Palmer, Game Commission biologist, the woodcock management plan provides a comprehensive and current summary of woodcock taxonomy, biology, population trends, habitat relationships and trends, hunter harvest, economic significance, partnerships and population restoration approaches in Pennsylvania.

The draft plan has a goal of returning woodcock populations to densities that provide improved hunting and viewing opportunities, and outlines two objectives and 20 strategies to achieve the goal.

The first objective focuses on monitoring woodcock populations statewide and on demonstration areas, as well as population demographics, hunter numbers and harvests, and determining woodcock hunter preferences, knowledge and satisfaction. 

The second objective is the heart of the plan, and calls for the creation of nearly 800,000 acres of early successional forest habitat on private and public lands. 

“This will be a significant challenge,” Palmer said.  “It will involve monitoring early successional forest trends, identifying and protecting important breeding and migration habitats, establishing habitat demonstration areas and holding workshops to educate landowners, developing partnerships with private and public landowners and conservation groups, creating habitat, identifying landowner preferences, and securing the funding to accomplish the habitat work.”

Public comments on the agency’s woodcock management plan will be accepted until Sept. 19, via the website or by mail to: Woodcock Management Plan, Pennsylvania Game Commission, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797.

The American woodcock is known by a host of folk names, such as timberdoodle, night partridge, big-eye, bogsucker and mudsnipe. This migratory game bird has large eyes and a bill that looks too long for its body.  Most active at dusk, night and dawn, a woodcock uses its bill to probe rich soil for earthworms, its favorite food.

The woodcock is a popular game bird with Pennsylvania hunters, and Pennsylvania ranks first in the eastern region in terms of number of woodcock hunters.  In 2007, about 10,000 hunters pursued this migratory game bird and harvested about 11,100 woodcock, according to the federal Harvest Information Program (HIP).

The upcoming woodcock hunting season in Pennsylvania will open Oct. 18, and continue through Nov. 15.  The daily limit is three, and the possession limit is six.