Frequently Asked Questions
As your state's wildlife agency, we want to help clarify and simplify some of the most commonly asked Pennsylvania hunting- and wildlife-related questions.
If you have a question that isn't answered here, email us at email@example.com. The Hunting and Trapping Digest serves as a great resource when it comes to questions about hunting seasons and regulations.
Like you, we are passionate about our state's wildlife and it is our mission to do the best we can to manage all wild birds and wild mammals and their habitats for current and future generations. We thank you in advance for your interest and for being Pennsylvania hunters, trappers and wildlife enthusiasts.
COVID-19, Updated July 6, 2020
For the latest information about COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, please visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s website at www.health.pa.gov. We encourage everyone to continue to take precautionary measures during this time and to continue to be safe and responsible during this unprecedented time.
Which Pennsylvania Game Commission Buildings and Offices are Closed?
The agency’s current building closures include the visitors center at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lancaster County and Howard Nursery in Centre County. More information on closures and cancellations can be found on the Coronavirus-Related Cancellations page. The Headquarters in Harrisburg will open for license sales on Monday, June 22.
Which Pennsylvania Game Commission Public Shooting Ranges and Region Offices are Open?
Ranges in counties in the three-phase matrix's Red-phase, and where stay-at-home orders remain in place and large gatherings are prohibited will be closed. Any rifle, shotgun, pistol and archery ranges on state game lands in counties that have been upgraded to Yellow or Green will have regular hours of operation.
As of Friday, June 5 all rifle, shotgun, pistol and archery ranges on state game lands have reopened and regular hours of operation have resumed. With all Game Commission shooting ranges and region offices open again. Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans thanks hunters, trappers and target shooters for their patience in recent months as the agency made adjustments to comply with COVID-19 guidelines.
Can the Public Access Pennsylvania State Game Lands?
Yes. Pennsylvania’s 1.6 million acres of state game lands are open for public access, at this time. Being outdoors is good health care and self care; however, recommendations for social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 still apply.
Refer to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s precautionary recommendations for outdoor recreation. Be safe and stay healthy!
Are Pennsylvania Game Commission State Game Wardens Still on Duty?
Absolutely, yes. The Game Commission’s state game wardens and dispatchers are essential employees and are working and responding to wildlife emergencies and more. As a reminder, regardless of the conditions brought on by COVID-19, it remains ILLEGAL to shoot game or wildlife, and all state laws, seasons and bag limits remain in effect. Report suspected wildlife violations to the Operation Game Thief Hotline at
1-888-PGC-8001 or online.
In Response to COVID-19, is the Pennsylvania Game Commission Considering Additional Hunting Opportunities or Changes to Existing Hunting Regulations?
Absolutely, not. The Pennsylvania Game Commission has no plans to suspend any hunting regulations, including seasons and bag limits, and game wardens will continue to enforce all state game laws. Pennsylvania’s hunting seasons, bag limits and regulations protect wildlife populations for the long-term. We will get through this pandemic together and the Game Commission appreciates the public’s compliance and support.
How Can a Wildlife Emergency be Reported?
Wildlife emergency calls can be made to the office that serves the county in which the incident occurred. The phone numbers and a map can be found to the right, or by clicking here.
Is the Pennsylvania Hunter-Trapper Education Course Available Online?
Yes. Anyone, ages 11 and up, can currently register for Pennsylvania’s online Hunter-Trapper Education course. In an effort to protect public health and reduce overall spread of COVID-19, in-person Hunter-Trapper Education classes have been cancelled through July 10. Beginning July 11, in-person classes may be offered in counties designated as "Green" in the Governor's three-phase matrix.
Classes will be limited to 50 percent capacity to ensure that social distancing can be maintained.
- Classes are limited to pre-registered students only. Walk-in students will not be permitted. A parent or guardian attending with a minor child is required to register or remain outside the facility. All persons in attendance will count towards the maximum number of people for the classroom.
- Each student shall be responsible for providing their own face covering/mask and will only be allowed to bring into the classroom a jacket, keys, phone and wallet or purse. Food and drinks will not be provided. Students should bring their own meals and beverages for consumption outside of the classroom.
- Additional information can be found here: COVID-19 Guidelines for Hunter-Trapper Education Classes
Expand AllClick here for a more accessible version
Since 1895, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has worked to manage Pennsylvania's wild birds, wild mammals and their habitats for current and future generations. The agency is focused on putting wildlife first, improving wildlife habitat, following sound business practices, serving the Pennsylvania public and improving support for hunting and trapping. Click here to learn more about our agency and its history.
No. The Pennsylvania Game Commission is an independent state agency and receives no General Fund money from the state's annual budget. View our annual reports, which include the Game Fund Revenues, Expenditures and *Reserve Funds".
*Since the Pennsylvania Game Commission does not receive funding from the state budget, the agency must maintain a healthy reserve fund balance to continue to operate and fund long-term infrastructure projects.
The most direct way to report an instance of a suspected sick, injured or nuisance wild animal is to call the Pennsylvania Game Commission Region Office that serves the county in which the animal is located.
It is best to call the region office directly because the region dispatcher might have additional questions for the caller about an exact location, the time the animal was witnessed or other something else. Time is of the essence when it comes to reporting the location of a wild animal, so it's best to call, as opposed to report via email or social media.
If you encounter a dead or injured animal that you suspect is a victim of a wildlife crime, please report the instance to the Operation Game Thief Hotline, an anonymous resource the agency uses to help solve cases, at 1-888-PGC-8001. Thank you in advance for helping to protect Pennsylvania wildlife!
Pennsylvania has 308 state games lands, which span more than 1.5 million acres. Penn's Woods is our state's nickname due to our forests, which blanket more than 60 percent of our state, and more than 92 percent of our state game lands. The Pennsylvania Game Commission manages this land primarily to provide the best habitat for wildlife, but also to provide opportunities for lawful hunting and trapping. Secondary recreational uses are also permitted in accordance with the Game Commission's regulations.
Click here to learn more about Pennsylvania state game lands, including regulations, maps, public shooting ranges, seasonal roads, access for hunters with disabilities, designated routes for horses and bicycles and more.
For information about local game lands, please reach out to the Game Commission region office that serves the county in which the lands are located.
Not yet. The law took effect Feb. 25, 2020, and the
first new Sunday hunting opportunities will be identified by the Game
Commission thereafter. Learn more.
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) affects the brain and nervous system of infected cervids (deer, elk and moose) and was first detected in Pennsylvania in 2012.
In September 2019, the Pennsylvania Game Commission released a draft of its new CWD Response Plan, a document that, when adopted, will guide the agency's management of CWD. Click here to read the draft plan. Click here to view a two-page overview and the public comment form. Thank you in advance for your time to review the plan and provide your comments.
Yes. Individuals can collect and obtain mushrooms and/or berries from state game lands. It's important to note that individuals cannot take firewood from state game lands. Click here to read more about state game lands regulations.
Yes. It is lawful for individuals to find and retain deer and elk antlers on public land, so long as they were shed through natural causes.
It is unlawful for individuals to possess a shed antler to sell, barter or trade OR to offer to sell, barter or trade any shed antler. Please remember and take note, it is unlawful to take the antlers that are found still attached to a skull. You must have permission from private landowners before entering their property. Click here to read the Pennsylvania Game Code.
By law, all first-time hunters and trappers, regardless of age, must successfully complete Hunter-Trapper Education training before they can buy a Pennsylvania hunting or trapping license. A training certificate, which is recognized throughout North America, is awarded when you pass a test at the end of the course.
Students must be at least 11 years old to enroll in a class. Pennsylvania Hunter-Trapper Education courses take place across the state throughout the year. Those wishing to complete the course, who are 16 years and older, have the option to complete it online. Learn more.
It's not impossible for a mountain lion to be living in the Commonwealth. But it's unlikely. Pennsylvania has more roads and hunters that just about every other state in America. So, it would be difficult for a mountain lion to avoid detection. Sightings or tracks surely would be noticed.
In 2011, a mountain lion migrated from South Dakota to Connecticut, a journey of some 1,500 miles. It was discovered when it was killed by a vehicle while crossing a highway. DNA tests confirmed the big cat originated in South Dakota and that it also previously had been tracked in 2009 and 2010 through Wisconsin and Minnesota, where the animal's DNA had previously been collected through blood, hair and droppings.
The Game Commission periodically receives reports and photos of mountain lions. Our investigations have determined the overwhelming number of sightings of mountain lions in our state are actually bobcats. Photos submitted as mountain lions typical are feral housecats. Mountain lions have appeared in Pennsylvania in the past 75 years, but when they're captured, it's quickly determined they were formerly exotic pets or show animals. Pennsylvania's last known wild eastern mountain lion was killed in Berks County in 1874. And, except for Florida, the eastern mountain lion is believed to have extricated from the east coast by 1900. But as the South Dakota mountain lion proved in its at least unusual migration to Connecticut, anything is possible.
Call the Game Commission region office
that serves the county in question for the best local on-the-ground information
and faster response times.
Road-killed deer should be reported directly to the Game Commission region office that serves the county where the animal is located. A variety of entities handle road-killed deer removal throughout the state and the region office can clarify the proper authorities to notify based on the location of the animal. Consumption permits for deer and turkey only: Residents can pick up deer and turkey only for consumption purposes and must obtain a permit within 24 hours. Consumption permits are issued from region offices. Call the region office that serves the county where the animal is located, directly. Region office contact information can be found below.
Comments for the Board of Game Commissioners regarding seasons and bag limits may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that we are not able to respond to every inquiry.
Right-to-know requests must be submitted in writing to the Open Records Officer. A form (PDF) to be used for such requests can be obtained at the Harrisburg Office of the Pennsylvania Game Commission and at Open Records Offices throughout the Commonwealth. Regulations regarding the Right-to-Know law.
Open Records Officer: Melissa S. Liskey - Pennsylvania Game Commission, 2001 Elmerton Avenue; Harrisburg PA 17110-9797, 717-787-4250, email@example.com. Office of Open Records: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Office of Open Records, Commonwealth Keystone Building, 400 North Street, 4th Floor, Harrisburg, PA 17120-0225.