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Plan to reintroduce American martens to Pennsylvania postponed indefinitely

Deer with decorations wrapped around its antlers spotted in Bethel Park
Deer with decorations wrapped around its antlers spotted in Bethel Park 02:07

HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) -- Plans to reintroduce American martens to Pennsylvania have been postponed indefinitely as the Game Commission takes more time to address concerns before moving forward.

The Board of Game Commissioners cast a split vote during Saturday's meeting, noting that an indefinite postponement doesn't mean they won't revisit reintroduction soon. 

The commission put its 10-year plan to translocate and monitor the species out for public comment in September. While most people were supportive, the agency said a survey of hunters wasn't as enthusiastic. Of the 9,000 responses from hunters, 37% supported reintroducing the American marten, while 32% opposed it and 31% were neutral. 

Commissioners voted in January to table the plan, saying that while it was well-researched, the results indicated the agency had some work to do with hunters before moving forward.   

Pine Marten
Curious American Marten in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada Megan Lorenz / Getty Images

Outreach efforts since have helped erase opposition, but in Saturday's vote, board members said they should build additional support by continuing to educate hunters and nonhunters alike. 

The agency also wants to take time to address concerns -- like the potential impacts of martens on both prey species and predators and the suitability of the habitat in areas where they'd be released. 

Commissioners said no one should get too hung up on the word "indefinitely," because the board could revisit the plan soon, maybe even before the end of the year. 

"I believe in a short amount of time we will have an affirmative decision," said President Commissioner Scott Foradora.

Before deforestation and unregulated harvest led to extirpation around the turn of the 20th century, the Game Commission says the American marten was a longtime native resident. Now martens can be found in Alaska, across Canada and down into Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and some states in the upper Midwest. 

Historic records indicate American martens used to live in the northern part of the state, with the highest densities found in Warren, McKean, Potter, Forest, Elk, Cameron and Clinton counties, the Game Commission says. 

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