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March 30th: Trout Season Begins in 18 Counties in Southeastern Pennsylvania

English: Man holding a rainbow trout (Oncorhyn...

English: Man holding a rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (March 19)Anglers from 18 southeastern counties are gearing up for the March 30 opening of trout, which marks the unofficial start of the 2013 fishing season.
“The buildup to opening day is just as exciting as the day itself,” said John Arway, executive director of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC). “Anglers are busy cleaning their gear, stocking up on supplies and hopefully buying a few new rods and reels. And stocking schedules are posted to the Commission’s website, so the last step for anglers is to pick the spots they want to fish that day.”
“I’ll be at Opossum Lake in Cumberland County to celebrate the reopening of the lake, and encourage the public to join us and try their hand at catching some of the rainbow trout we’re stocking there,” he added.
The 18 counties open March 30 include: Adams, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Perry, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, and York.
April 13 is the traditional opening day for the rest of the state.
Visit the PFBC’s website to see detailed stocking schedules, which can be easily sorted by county. The schedule shows what waters will be stocked, the date and time, and a meeting place where volunteers can gather to help with the stocking.
“While opening day is one of the biggest fishing days of the year, it’s also one of the biggest social events,” Arway added. “Research shows that when it comes to fishing, anglers like being together with friends and family just as much as they like catching fish.”
The PFBC’s “great white fleet” of stocking trucks has been busy since mid-February replenishing Pennsylvania’s waterways with a fresh supply of brook, brown and rainbow trout. Every year the PFBC stocks about 3.2 million trout in waterways across the state.
More than 850,000 anglers buy a fishing license each year.
For the first time this year, anglers can purchase multi-year fishing licenses, including a resident three-year license for $64.70 or a resident five-year license for $106.70. Resident three-year and five-year trout permits cost $25.70 and $41.70.
A one-year resident fishing license costs $22.70 and a trout-salmon permit is $9.70. A license is required for anyone 16 and older. Licenses can be purchased at sporting goods stores and online at www.fishandboat.com.
Also, a media resources page contains web banners, high resolution photos and radio public service announcements for graphic artists and reporters to use.
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PA waters Participate in Cabela's "Wanna Go Fishing for Millions?" Contest

Harrisburg, PA – Anglers registered with Cabela’s “Wanna Go Fishing for Millions?” promotion will have an opportunity to land prize-winning fish in eight Pennsylvania waterways announced today by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) and Cabela’s.

In conjunction with the contest, the PFBC will offer fishing instruction and a variety of other activities at six of the eight waters on May 30 as part of its annual Fish-for-Free day. The selected waters where Fish-for-Free activities will be held include:

  • Lake Wallenpaupack, a 5,700-acre lake located in Pike and Wayne counties;
  • Raystown Lake, an 8,000-acre lake in Huntingdon County;
  • The Emsworth Pool of the Three Rivers in Pittsburgh;
  • Presque Isle Bay, a 3,300-acre body of water which is part of Presque Isle State Park in Erie County;
  • Foster Joseph Sayers Lake, a 1,730-acre reservoir located in Bald Eagle Creek State Park in Centre County.
  • Lake Nockamixon, a 1,450-acre lake located within Nockamixon State Park in Bucks County.

The remaining two waters include:

  • Penns Creek, which begins from a spring in Penns Cave, Centre County, and flows eastward to its confluence with the Susquehanna River near Selinsgrove in Snyder County.
  • Lake Arthur, a 3,200-acre lake located within Moraine State Park in Butler County.

The contest officially starts today and runs through July 14. Anglers can register through the Link on Steel Valley Outdoors left hand sidebar for a chance at landing the $2.2 million prize.

“We’re excited that the Cabela’s contest coincides with our first Fish-for-Free day on Memorial Day,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer and it’s a day when many families and friends get together at lakes and parks throughout the state. It is the first of two Fishing Holidays this year.”

“First-time anglers can learn how to fish from our instructors and, in the process, maybe land a prize-winning fish,” he added. “It’s a great way to get introduced to the sport of fishing.”

In addition to providing free fishing tips, PFBC outreach and education staff will have exhibits, free publications and more at the six selected sites. Fish-for-Free Days allow anyone (resident or non-resident) to legally fish. No fishing license is required to fish on these days. All other fishing regulations apply. The second Fish-for-Free Day is Labor Day, Sept. 5.

To help reporters with stories and websites, the PFBC has created a media resources page which contains high resolution tagging photos and videos. High-resolution logos can also be downloaded. The page is located at: http://www.fishandboat.com/media-resources/fish-tagging/tagging-contest-media.htm.

The mission of the Fish and Boat Commission is to protect, conserve, and enhance the Commonwealth’s aquatic resources and provide fishing and boating opportunities. For more information about fishing and boating in Pennsylvania, please visit our website at www.fishandboat.com.


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Pennsylvania Deer Gun Hunting Season

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HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania’s only unofficial holiday – the Monday after Thanksgiving, which marks the opening day of the two-week general deer season – will feature nearly 750,000 individuals sporting fluorescent orange and camouflage clothing throughout Penn’s Woods, according to Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe.
“Pennsylvania’s deer season has a dramatic and beneficial effect on the Commonwealth, as it provides hunters a chance to put venison in the freezer and stimulates a multi-million dollar economic surge that local businesses rely on,” Roe said. “In addition to being a rich part of our state’s heritage, deer season also is the most important method that the Game Commission has to manage Pennsylvania’s whitetails. The efforts of hunters are far-reaching, and they help to keep deer populations in check and enable the agency to meet deer management goals that benefit almost everyone who resides, visits or travels through this state.”
Roe noted that hunters will need to make sure that they have done their pre-season scouting, as fall food conditions will impact deer movements.
“Deer will respond to food availability and hunter pressure, both of which can vary from year to year, and from one area to another,” Roe said. “Our fall food survey suggests wildlife food abundance is quite variable this year.  Some areas have good acorn crops; others have few or no acorns.  So, as always, pre-season scouting can improve a hunter’s chance for success this year, particularly in the week leading up to the start of season.”
Deer season will open with a five-day, antlered deer-only season in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 2C, 2D, 2E, 2G, 3C, 4B, 4D and 4E from Nov. 29-Dec. 3. It is followed immediately in these WMUs by seven days of concurrent, antlered and antlerless deer hunting beginning Dec. 4, and continuing through Dec. 11. The rest of the state follows the two-week concurrent, antlered and antlerless season – Nov. 29-Dec. 11 – that has been in place since 2001.
Hunters must wear 250 square inches of fluorescent orange material on the head, chest and back combined at all times while afield during the seasons. They also are advised that it’s illegal to hunt, chase or disturb deer within 150 yards of any occupied building without the occupant’s permission if they are using a firearm, or 50 yards if they are using a bow or crossbow.
During the two-week season, hunters may use any legal sporting arm, as outlined on page 45 of the 2010-11 Digest.  Rifles are not permitted to be used in Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware or Montgomery counties.  Deer hunters in Philadelphia may only use bows or crossbows.
All hunters who take a deer must fill out their harvest tag and attach it to the deer’s ear before moving the carcass. The tag can be secured to the base of the ear with a string drawn very tightly, if the hunter plans to have the deer mounted. Cutting a slit in the ear to attach the tag will require additional work by a taxidermist.
Roe noted that there is no concurrent bear season during any portion of this year’s deer season.

GAME COMMISSION POSTS FIELD FORECASTS ON WEBSITE
Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officers (WCOs), Land Management Group Supervisors (LMGSs) and foresters spend a considerable amount of time gathering information about wildlife population trends in their districts.  With the hunting and trapping seasons in full swing, the Game Commission, once again, is sharing that information – through its website – with those who enjoy Penn’s Woods.
To view these field forecasts offered by Game Commission officers, go to the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) and click on the “Field Officer Forecasts” photo link in the middle of the homepage, then select the region of interest in the map, and choose the WCO district of interest from the map.  For LMGS or forester reports, select the link to the LMGS Group or forester link of interest within that region.
“Our field officers and foresters provide wildlife forecasts for small game, furbearers, wild turkey, bear and deer within their respective districts,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director.  “These forecasts are based on sightings field officers have had in the months leading up to the 2010-11 seasons, and some offer comparisons to previous wildlife forecasts. Some WCOs and LMGSs include anecdotal information, as well as hunting and trapping leads in their districts.
“The Game Commission offers this information to hunters and trappers to help them in their pursuits afield. Many WCO, LMGS and forester reports offer information on where to hunt or trap, as well as guidance on where to get more information, particularly for trapping certain furbearers, such as beaver and coyotes.”
Roe noted the Game Commission divides the state’s 67 counties into six regions, and then each region is divided into WCO districts comprised of about 300 square miles each.  There are 136 WCO districts statewide.  Each of the 29 LMGS groups is comprised of several counties or portions of counties within each region, and seeks to equally distribute the amount of State Game Lands and public access lands within the region.  The number of foresters ranges per region, from four to nine.

ONLINE HARVEST REPORTING AVAILABLE FOR DEER HARVESTS
Those participating in this year’s deer seasons will be able to file their harvest reports through the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s online system.
To report a deer harvest online, go to the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), click on “Report Your Harvest” above the “Quick Clicks” box in the right-hand column, check “Harvest Reporting,” scroll down and click on the “Start Here” button at the bottom of the page, choose the method of validating license information, and click on the checkbox for the harvest tag being reported.  A series of options will appear for a hunter to report a harvest. After filling in the harvest information, click on the “Continue” button to review the report and then hit the “Submit” button to complete the report. Failing to hit the “Submit” button will result in a harvest report not being completed.
“Hunters may report one or more harvests in a single session,” Roe said. “Responses to all harvest questions are required.”
Roe noted that hunters still have the option to file harvest report postcards, which are included as tear-out sheets in the current digest.
Tips on tagging and reporting deer also are available on the Game Commission’s white-tailed deer section. This information can be accessed by going to the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), clicking on the “White-Tailed Deer” icon in the center of the homepage and then selecting “Tagging and Reporting Your Deer” in the “Deer Hunting” section.
“We certainly are encouraging hunters to use the online reporting system, which will ensure that their harvest is recorded,” Roe said.  “Either way, the more important point is that all hunters who harvest a deer report it to the agency.”

HUNTERS REMINDED THAT LICENSES STILL MUST BE DISPLAYED
Hunters and trappers are reminded that they still are required to display their licenses on an outer garment, said Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe.
“The Game Commission is supporting legislation to remove the statutory requirement that licenses be displayed, and thereby allow hunters to place their hunting license in their wallet with other ID,” Roe said. “However, until such time as the General Assembly removes this statutory requirement, hunters and trappers will need to continue to display their licenses.”

HUNTERS CAN CHECK ON TRAFFIC AND ROAD CONDITIONS IN ADVANCE
Hunters can check traffic and road conditions on more than 2,900 miles of roadways by simply calling 511 or logging onto the Department of Transportation’s website (www.511pa.com) before heading out to deer camp this year.
“’511PA’ is Pennsylvania’s official travel information service,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “This service from PennDOT provides travelers with reliable, current traffic and weather information. This site enables hunters to check on the status of road conditions before heading out for camp.”

HUNTERS SHARING THE HARVEST A WORTHY CAUSE
Hunters who are successful in the upcoming deer hunting seasons are encouraged by the Pennsylvania Game Commission to consider participating in the state’s Hunters Sharing the Harvest (HSH) program, which channels donations of venison to local food banks, soup kitchens and needy families.  Pennsylvania’s HSH program is recognized as one of the most successful among similar programs in about 40 states.
“Using a network of local volunteer area coordinators and cooperating meat processors to process and distribute venison donated by hunters, HSH has really helped to make a difference for countless needy families and individuals in our state,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “Pennsylvanians who participate in this extremely beneficial program should be proud of the role they play. HSH truly does make a tremendous difference.”
Started in 1991, HSH has developed into a refined support service for organizations that assist the Commonwealth’s needy.  Each year, Hunters Sharing the Harvest helps to deliver almost 200,000 meals to food banks, churches and social services feeding programs for meals provided to needy Pennsylvanians.
“This program is all about the generosity of hunters and their desire to help make a difference,” Roe said. “It’s a program that many hunters have become committed to and enjoy supporting. After all, what is more gratifying than providing needed food to families?”
As part of the program, hunters are encouraged to take a deer to a participating meat processor and identify how much of their deer meat – from an entire deer to several pounds – that is to be donated to HSH.  If the hunter is donating an entire deer, they are asked to make a $15 tax-deductible co-pay, and HSH will cover the remaining processing fees.  However, a hunter can cover the entire costs of the processing, which is tax deductible as well.
HSH established a statewide toll-free telephone number – 866-474-2141 – which also can answer hunters’ questions about where participating meat processors can be found or other general inquiries about the program.
To learn more about the program and obtain a list of participating meat processors and county coordinators, visit the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) and click on “Hunters Sharing the Harvest” in the “Quick Clicks” box in the right-hand column of the homepage, or go to the HSH website (www.sharedeer.org).

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Everything Pennsylvania Bear Hunting 2010

An American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) at t...
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HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania bear hunters will be able to enjoy a full-week of archery bear season (Nov. 15-19), followed by a Saturday opener of the three-day firearms bear season, which will run Nov. 20, and the following Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 22 and 23, according to Carl G. Roe, Pennsylvania Game Commission executive director.

“Pennsylvania’s bear population covers more than three-quarters of the state, and includes a number of world-class trophy bears,” Roe said. “This has earned Pennsylvania recognition as one of the top states for bear hunters. Every year, we have a number of bears exceeding 500 pounds included in the harvest.”

Since 1992, six bears with an estimated live weight of 800 pounds or more have been taken in Pennsylvania. The possibility of another 800-pounder being taken by a hunter is always in play when Pennsylvania’s bear season opens.

In 2009, the largest bear taken was a 668-pound (estimated live weight) male taken in Jefferson Township, Dauphin County, by Edward Bechtel, of Lykens, on Dec. 3.  In all, 13 bears taken by hunters weighed 600 pounds or more, further illustrating Pennsylvania’s status as a major bear hunting destination.

The 2009 bear harvest of 3,512 is second only to the 2005 bear harvest, in which hunters took a record 4,164 bears.  Other recent harvests were: 3,075 in 2000; 3,063 in 2001; 2,686 in 2002; 3,000 in 2003; 2,972 in 2004; 3,122 in 2006; 2,360 in 2007; and 3,458 in 2008. Over the past ten years, hunters have taken more black bears than in any other decade since the Game Commission began keeping bear harvest records in 1915.

“Conditions this year are favorable for another record harvest,” said Mark Ternent, Game Commission black bear biologist. “Bear populations are up in many parts of the state relative to past years; hunter participation is expected to be good, based on the number of bear licenses being purchased; and acorns are plentiful, which tends to keep bears out of dens and active through the fall hunting season. The only unknown is if we will have favorable weather for hunters on opening day.

“Weather can have a huge impact on the season’s outcome, but so can fall food conditions. However, our fall food surveys indicate that acorn production is exceptional over large parts of Pennsylvania this year. But, even with good food conditions, pre-season scouting will still be important.”

Bears were taken in 54 counties last year, which was the same as 2008, but an increase from 2007, when bears were taken in 49 counties. The state’s top five counties — all from the Northcentral Region – along with the 2008’s harvest results in parentheses, were: Clinton, 295 (139); Lycoming, 280 (252); Tioga, 217 (236); Cameron, 214 (75); and Potter, 181 (294).

The total bear harvest by WMU for 2009, including 2008’s harvest results in parentheses, were: WMU 1A, 8 (21); WMU 1B, 36 (67); WMU 2C, 247 (227); WMU 2D, 128 (166); WMU 2E, 77 (117); WMU 2F, 282 (246); WMU 2G, 1,027 (729); WMU 3A, 255 (313); WMU 3B, 292 (392); WMU 3C, 73 (177); WMU 3D, 276 (199); WMU 4A, 125 (145); WMU 4B, 43 (43); WMU 4C, 141 (105); WMU 4D, 442 (456); WMU 4E, 58 (53); WMU 5B, 1 (0); and WMU 5C, 1 (1).

Hunters will need to have a general hunting license and a bear license.  Bear licenses are not part of the junior or senior combination licenses, and must be purchased separately.

All hunters who harvest a bear must immediately tag it with their field harvest tag that is part of the bear license, and, if during the statewide three-day season, transport the carcass – minus entrails – to one of the Game Commission bear check stations within 24 hours, and present it along with their general hunting license and bear license. During the archery season, hunters should contact a PGC region office within 24 hours to have their bear checked.


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LOCAL BLACK BEAR INFORMATION AVAILABLE ON-LINE

Interested in learning more about what’s going on with black bears in your county? Please consider visiting the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s “Field Officer Game Forecasts” found on the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us). Developed to share field officer perspectives and observations on game and furbearer trends in their respective districts and to help hunters and trappers get closer to the action afield, the field reports have been warmly received by many hunters and trappers since they were added to the website.

“Our field officers spend a tremendous amount of time afield, often in areas hunters and trappers are eager to learn more about,” said Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe. “Their observations have value to hunters and trappers so we decided to make them accessible to anyone who enjoys hunting and trapping in Pennsylvania – resident or nonresident.”

BEAR CHECK STATION HOURS OF OPERATION

Hunters who harvest a bear during the three-day statewide season (Nov. 20, 22-23) must take it to one of the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s check stations within 24 hours. Check stations will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Nov. 20; from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 22 and 23.  In addition, all check stations will be open on Sunday, Nov. 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

During the five-day archery bear season (Nov. 15-19) or after 8 p.m. on Nov. 23, hunters with bears to be checked should contact any of the Game Commission region office that serves the county in which the harvest took place for assistance. Office telephone numbers are listed on page 5 of the 2010-11 Hunting and Trapping Digest, issued with hunting licenses.

Check station information is listed on page 38 of the 2010-11 Digest. The only changes in bear check station information since the printing of the digest is that the Mifflin County and Southcentral Region Office bear check stations have been moved.

The new Mifflin County check station will be opened at the Brown Township Municipal Building, which is about one mile from the previous site at the Mifflin County Youth Park. The Brown Township building is about 80 yards off Route 655, one mile west of the Route 322/655 interchange.

The Southcentral Region Office check station has moved to the new Pennsylvania Army National Guard Readiness Center (aka “Armory”) on Route 26, 0.3 miles south of the Routes 22/26 interchange that is one mile west of Huntingdon, Huntingdon County.

Also, the Game Commission has made several operational changes at check stations, including the use of handheld scanners, to expedite the processing of bears and to improve hunter satisfaction during this important process.

HUNTERS CAN CHECK ON TRAFFIC AND ROAD CONDITIONS IN ADVANCE

Hunters can check traffic and road conditions on more than 2,900 miles of roadways by simply calling 511 or logging onto the Department of Transportation’s website (www.511pa.com) before heading out for bear season.

“’511PA’ is Pennsylvania’s official travel information service,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “This service from PennDOT provides travelers with reliable, current traffic and weather information. This site enables hunters to check on the status of road conditions before heading out to their bear hunting destination.”

GAME COMMISSION OFFERS BEAR HUNTING TIPS

Pennsylvania Game Commission officials point out that one of the biggest mistakes bear hunters make is failing to locate areas with good fall food supplies – acorns, beechnuts, apples, corn – before the hunting season and overlooking areas of dense cover where bears like to hide.

“Signs to look for while scouting include droppings; bedding areas, which are scratched out depressions, usually at the base of a tree or log; and active trails with tracks,” said Mark Ternent, Game Commission black bear biologist. “In beech stands, look for fresh claw marks on tree trunks indicating that bears are feeding in the area, and in oak stands look for fresh droppings that are almost completely composed of acorns bits. Either of these signs suggests bears are feeding nearby and, if food conditions are right, they will likely still be there come hunting season. A good time to scout is early November, so you can assess local mast conditions.”

Other bear hunting tips include:

● Look for bears in the thickest cover you can find, such as: swamps and bogs, mountain laurel/rhododendron thickets, north-facing slopes, regenerating timber-harvest areas, wind-blown areas with lots of downed trees, and remote sections of river bottoms. Bigger bears are notorious for holding in thick cover, even when hunters pass nearby.

● Organized drives are effective. Hunters working together often increase their odds of taking bears, especially those bears holding out in thick cover. Develop plans to safely drive likely bear hideouts and follow them to the letter. A minor slip-up by a driver, flanker or stander is all a bear needs to elude even the best-planned drive. Regulations limit the size of organized drives to 25 people or less.

● Hunting on-stand early and late in the day gives hunters a great chance to catch bears traveling to and from feeding and bedding areas. Hunt areas that provide cover to traveling bears and ensure there is either a good supply of mast or cornfields or cover near where you plan to hunt.

● Use the wind to your advantage. If a bear gets a whiff of you, you’re busted as a hunter. Bears have an outstanding sense of smell. They often let their noses guide the way as they travel. Always place yourself downwind of expected travel lanes when hunting on-stand or driving. Bears are cagey enough without giving them more advantages.

●Stay focused and assume nothing. Black bears blend in well in forest settings at dawn and as dusk approaches. Spend too much time looking one way and you can miss a bear. Even though bears are quite heavy, they often are surprisingly quiet moving through the forest. You may see a bear before you hear it coming. Staying alert and remaining vigilant are critical.

BEAR HUNTING BULLETS

● A bear license is required to participate in any bear season.

● Only one bear may be harvested per license year from all seasons combined.

● A hunter who harvests a bear must complete all information on his or her bear harvest tag and attach it to the ear of the animal immediately after harvest and before the carcass is moved. In addition, within 24 hours, hunters who kill a bear must take it, along with their general hunting and bear licenses, to a Game Commission check station for examination. Bear check stations are maintained at the agency’s six regional offices and at other locations listed on page 38 in the 2010-11 Hunting and Trapping Digest.

● Once a hunter has used his or her bear harvest tag, it is unlawful to possess it in the field. Also, hunters are reminded to remove old licenses from their holder before placing a new one in it. If you keep an old license in the holder, you may accidentally use it to tag big game and unintentionally violate the law.

● It is unlawful to kill a bear in a den; use a radio to locate a bear that has a radio transmitter attached to it; hunt in areas where artificial or natural bait, hay, grain, fruit, nuts, salt, chemicals, minerals, including residue or other foods are used, or have been used, as an enticement to lure wildlife within the past 30 days; use scents or lures; pursue bears with dogs; or to hunt bears in a party of more than 25 persons.

● During the firearms bear season, hunters are required to wear at all times 250 square inches of fluorescent orange on their head, chest and back combined, visible 360 degrees. In WMUs where the archery bear season and fall wild turkey season run concurrently, bowhunters, when moving, are required to wear a hat containing 100 square inches of solid fluorescent orange. The hat may be removed when the hunter is stationary or on stand.

● Bears may be hunted with: manually-operated center-fire rifles, handguns and shotguns with an all-lead bullet or ball, or a bullet designed to expand on impact – buckshot is illegal; muzzle-loading long guns 44-caliber or larger; long, recurve or compound bows or crossbows with broadheads of cutting-edge design. Crossbows must have a minimum draw weight of 125 pounds. Also, crossbows are legal for the archery bear season.

● It is unlawful to intentionally lay or place food, fruit, hay, grain, chemicals, salt or other minerals that may cause bears to congregate or habituate in an area.

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PA Hunt Clubs: Plan Your Junior Pheasant Hunt Now

HARRISBURG – While Pennsylvania’s junior pheasant hunt seems like a long way off, Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe noted that now is the time for hunting clubs to make plans to host an organized junior pheasant hunt.

“The future of hunting is directly related to the continuing participation of young Pennsylvanians,” Roe noted. “The goal is to successfully compete with all the other activities and recreational opportunities that vie for a young person’s time. It’s truly a challenge for the Game Commission, as well as Pennsylvania’s one million hunters.

“To maximize this opportunity for younger hunters, and to ensure we pass along the importance of ethics and sound ideals that have shaped our hunting heritage, the Game Commission and Pheasants Forever urge local clubs to consider hosting a junior pheasant hunt in their community.”

Those clubs interested in hosting a junior pheasant hunt are encouraged to use the 26-page planning guide prepared by the Game Commission and the Pennsylvania State Chapter of Pheasants Forever.  The booklet offers a step-by-step guide on how to develop an organized junior pheasant hunt.  The guide-book includes: a sample timeline; suggested committees and assignments; general event planning considerations; and several sample forms and news releases.  It also includes event evaluation guides so clubs and organizations may consider changes for future junior pheasant hunts.

The guide can be viewed on the Game Commission’s website, by clicking on “Hunting” in the left-hand column of the homepage, then selecting the pheasant photo and then choosing “Junior Pheasant Hunt Planning Guide.”  Later this year, the agency will update this section to include a listing of locations that the Game Commission plans to release birds for the 2009 junior pheasant hunts, as well as a listing of all the junior pheasant hunts being hosted by local clubs.

To participate in the junior pheasant hunt, youngsters must be 12 to 16 years of age, and must have successfully completed a basic Hunter-Trapper Education course.  As required by law, an adult must accompany the young hunters.  Participating hunters do not need to purchase a junior hunting license to take part in the youth pheasant hunt, but all participants must wear the mandatory 250 square inches of fluorescent orange material on their head, chest and back combined, visible from 360 degrees.

To bolster participation in the junior pheasant hunt, the Game Commission again plans to stock pheasants just prior to this special season.  For the 2010 hunt, the agency will release 15,000 birds on lands open to public hunting.  These areas will be identified in the 2010-2011 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations, as well as in future Game Commission news releases and on the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us).

Additionally, the Game Commission will provide, free of charge, a limited number of pheasants to those clubs that host a junior pheasant hunt. Applications must be received by July 31, and the only two stipulations to be eligible is that clubs must have registration open to the public and must be held on lands open to public hunting.

Based on previous surveys, about half of the junior participants successfully bagged game; a male relative had accompanied most of them; the majority of participants were between the ages of 12 and 14; and many of them intend to hunt again.  The agency also received many positive comments about the junior hunting opportunity.

Pheasants Forever is a national non-profit habitat conservation organization with a system of hard-working local chapter volunteers dedicated to the protection and enhancement of pheasants and other wildlife populations.  Pheasants Forever emphasizes habitat improvement, public awareness and education, and land management policies that benefit private landowners and wildlife alike.  For more information, visit the organization’s website (www.pheasantsforever.org).

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PA 2010-2011 Hunting Licenses On Sale June 14th

Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) and eight Chicks
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HARRISBURG – Beginning Monday, June 14, Pennsylvania hunting and furtaker licenses for the 2010-11 seasons will go on sale throughout the state, according to Carl G. Roe, agency executive director.  Licenses will be available through the Game Commission’s Pennsylvania Automated License System (PALS), over-the-counter at all Game Commission region offices and the Harrisburg headquarters, as well as the more than 600 in-state and out-of-state issuing agents.  Licenses also are available through the PALS website:  https://www.pa.wildlifelicense.com.

For the 2010-11 license year, all fees are the same as they have been since 1999.  However, there is a 70-cent transaction fee attached to the purchase of each license and permit, which is paid directly to Automated License Systems, the Nashville-based company that runs PALS.

“PALS enabled the Game Commission to modernize the licensing system and improve security,” Roe said. “To ensure faster processing, personal information is now recorded through a Pennsylvania driver’s license scan. This eliminates data entry; provides a more secure, reliable and accurate means to gather and store license holder records; and eliminates license buyer duplicity.

“For all these reasons – and more – the Game Commission has eliminated paper applications. Nonresidents who have always submitted a paper application will need to use PALS either on the agency’s website or at an issuing agent. It’s fast, easy and secure.”

Roe noted that all license-issuing agents are now part of an integrated, real-time, cyber network that allows them to offer licenses that up until now simply could not be provided via the old license system.

“Now all license agents can issue senior lifetime licenses; Mentored Youth Hunting Program permits; elk drawing applications; bobcat and fisher permits; even resident landowner reduced-fee hunting licenses and Deer Management Assistance Program Harvest (DMAP) permits,” Roe said. “Hunters also can purchase the special spring gobbler license, which allows them to harvest a second gobbler in the 2011 spring gobbler season.”

New features this year will be the rotation of up to 10 random survey questions of which a license buyer may be asked one question that requires a positive, negative or no response. Additional survey questions may be asked of specific constituents based upon the license privileges they purchase.

Roe also noted, as originally envisioned by the U.S. Congress and the Pennsylvania General Assembly, PALS now will enable the agency to suspend issuing licenses to those, who through court order, have had their hunting license privileges revoked for failure to pay child support.

Roe reminded hunters that, under state law, only Pennsylvania County Treasurers may issue antlerless deer licenses. However, thanks to PALS, county treasurers now may issue an antlerless deer license for any WMU, so long as its allocation isn’t sold out.

Applications for the regular round of antlerless deer licenses for residents begins July 12, and nonresidents can apply beginning July 26.  An antlerless license application will be printed with every general license purchased, and an application also will be available in the 2010-11 Hunting and Trapping Digest for the first and second round of unsold antlerless deer licenses. Except for Wildlife Management Units (WMU) 2B, 5C and 5D, hunters only may apply for one license during each application period.

“Hunters will need to continue using pink envelopes to mail antlerless deer license applications to the county treasurer of their choice to process the applications and mail back antlerless deer licenses,” Roe said. “Hunters will have the option of listing their first, second and third WMU preferences for doe licenses on their applications. Treasurers will fill the highest WMU preference listed by the hunter. This option will eliminate reapplication for a doe license if your first WMU preference – or second – is sold out. However, hunters do not need to list alternative WMUs if they only plan to hunt in one specific WMU.”

A list of all County Treasurer mailing addresses is included in the 2010-11 Digest, which is provided to each license buyer. More details on the new procedures for applying for a doe license can be found in the Digest, which has been posted in the right-hand column of the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us).

Another change will be the new look and feel of licenses. The yellow strip – similar to a fishing license – will fit into your old license holder, or one of the smaller new ones. Carcass tags are different-looking, too. They’re squarer, have perforated holes and are preprinted with your name and address. Licenses will fold into a 2.5-inch by 3.5-inch, tear-resistant document.

Roe reminded hunters that, in conjunction with the move to PALS, the Game Commission now is able to accept online harvest reports for deer, wild turkey, bobcat and fisher.  In addition to reporting deer and wild turkey harvests within the prescribed time limits, those who possess a DMAP, bobcat or fisher permit are required to report, regardless of whether they harvested an antlerless deer, bobcat or fisher, respectively.  Each online harvest report costs the Game Commission 50 cents.

“A hard-copy of the postage-paid report card still will be available in the 2010-11 Digest, but the agency is hoping hunters will report online to save on the cost of postage and data entry,” Roe said. “Reporting online also will ensure your harvest data will not be lost in the mail.”

Waterfowl and migratory game bird seasons are not included in the 2010-11 Digest, as those seasons won’t be established until mid-August.  Once seasons are set, the Game Commission will produce the annual Guide to Migratory Game Bird Hunting brochure, which will be posted on the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) and mailed to U.S. Post Offices.  However, applications and directions for the public drawing to waterfowl hunting blinds in the controlled hunting areas at the Game Commission’s Pymatuning and Middle Creek wildlife management areas are in the 2010-11 Digest.

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When Deer Collide: Motorist Safety

HARRISBURG –Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe today urged motorists to stay alert and slow down when driving after dusk and before dawn to reduce their risk of colliding with a .

“Each spring, deer congregate on the grassy areas along the state’s busy highways, and cover greater distances in search of food,” Roe said.  “This activity makes vehicle collisions with deer all but inevitable.

“For the sake of public safety, the Game Commission is asking motorists to watch for deer and to drive defensively after dark and before sunrise, which is when deer are most active.  Your efforts can help to keep accidents to a minimum, which, in turn, will reduce or eliminate hardships to your family and other Pennsylvanians.”

Roe noted that being more knowledgeable about deer can help Pennsylvanians steer clear of a deer-vehicle collision. For instance, in spring, young deer – last year’s fawns – are on the move as does chase them away to prepare to give birth to this year’s fawns. Yearling does usually travel no farther than necessary and will often later reunite with the doe after her new fawns begin traveling with her. However, young bucks typically disperse farther to set up their own home range.

“Unfortunately, these young deer make tragic mistakes when crossing roads in spring and moving through areas unfamiliar to them,” said Roe. “They’re no longer following the leader, they’re moving independently. And that increases the potential for an accident, especially in areas harboring large deer populations.”

If a deer steps onto a road, Roe said, motorists should slow down and come to a controlled stop as soon as possible, and turn on their hazard flashers.  Stopping may not be an option on busy highways, unless the driver can reach the shoulder of the road.

“Don’t risk trying to drive around a deer,” Roe said.  “Since deer usually move in single file, more deer may be following, so you should stop, or at least slow down, to make sure all deer have passed.

“Also, deer sometimes abruptly reverse their direction right after crossing a road.  This is a defensive mechanism that often kicks in when deer are startled, and they retrace their footsteps to other deer they’re traveling with or return to an area they’ve already checked for danger.”

Deer in northern counties spend a good deal of time in spring feeding on the tender shoots in grassy areas alongside busy highways. Motorists should slow down immediately whenever they see grazing deer along roads.  While deer dining next to busy highways and interstates are often not bothered by the traffic, deer along rural roads seem less tolerant and are more edgy.

“The only thing predictable about whitetails is that they’re definitely unpredictable,” Roe said. “The moment you think you have them figured out, they start showing you something new.

“However, we also know that deer are creatures of habit. If you see a deer-crossing sign posted along a road you’re traveling, it’s a good idea to slow down especially around dawn and dusk. These signs are placed in areas where deer have been crossing roads for years. Ignoring these signs is asking for trouble.”

Drivers who hit a deer are not required to report the accident to the Game Commission. If the deer dies, only Pennsylvania residents may claim the carcass.  To do so, they must call the Game Commission for a permit number within 24 hours of taking possession of the deer.

However, to report a dead deer for removal from state roads, motorists can call the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation at 1-800-FIX-ROAD.

The permit number issued by the agency lets meat processors and law enforcement officials know that possession of the deer is legal, and not the result of poaching.  Antlers from bucks killed in vehicle collisions must be turned over to the Game Commission.

If a deer is struck by a vehicle, but not killed, drivers are urged to stay their distance because some deer may recover and move on.  However, if a deer does not move on, or poses a public safety risk, drivers are encouraged to report the incident to a Game Commission regional office or other local law enforcement agency.  If the deer must be put down, the Game Commission will direct the proper person to do so.

Other tips for motorists:

  • Stay alert and don’t count on deer whistles or deer fences to deter deer from crossing roads in front of you. Deer can’t hear ultrasonic frequencies and there is no scientific evidence that deer whistles are effective.
  • Watch for the reflection of deer eyes and for deer silhouettes on the shoulders of roads. If anything looks slightly suspicious, slow down.
  • Slow down in areas known to have a large deer population; where deer-crossing signs are posted; places where deer commonly cross roads or are struck by motorists; areas where roads divide agricultural fields from forests; and whenever in forested areas between dusk and dawn.
  • Deer do unpredictable things. Sometimes they stop in the middle of the road when crossing. Sometimes they cross and quickly re-cross back from where they came. Sometimes they move toward an approaching vehicle. Assume nothing. Slow down, blow your horn to urge the deer to leave the road. Stop if a deer stays on the road; don’t try to go around it.
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Brady's Run Lake to be Drawn Down: Unlimited Fishing

Somerset, PA – Anglers visiting Brady’s Run Lake in Beaver County can harvest an unlimited number of fish beginning May 15, the date the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) will lift all seasons, sizes and creel limits in preparation of a summer drawdown of the lake.

“Removing all harvest restrictions provides additional recreational opportunities for anglers and can help reduce the number of fish that could potentially be stranded when the water level drops,” said Denny Tubbs, Outreach and Education Coordinator for the PFBC Southwest Region. “Once the draining of the lake begins, all public access to the lake will be prohibited.”

The lake will be closed beginning on June 14 and will be drawn down to remove sediment that has accumulated behind the dam over the past 24 years. The drawdown is expected to occur during the last weeks in June. The lake is a 28-acre reservoir owned by Beaver County and is the central attraction in Brady’s Run County Park, located southwest of Beaver Falls in Chippewa Township. The lake was similarly rehabilitated in 1985 – 1986.

The PFBC will attempt to salvage as many game fish as possible from the lake and relocate them to other waters in the area. The dates of the fish salvage will be announced once set. When the lake returns to full pool, it will be restocked with warm-water fish, returned to the list of Approved Trout Waters, and stocked with adult trout.

These temporary modifications will be in effect until further notice but in no event will it remain in place after January 1, 2011. All other rules and regulations remain in effect.

The mission of the Fish and Boat Commission is to protect, conserve, and enhance the Commonwealth’s aquatic resources and provide fishing and boating opportunities. For more information about fishing and boating in Pennsylvania, please visit our website at www.fishandboat.com.

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Totally, Like Everything, PA Deer Management Assistance Program

corner of the deer exclosure
Image by Dave Bonta via Flickr

HARRISBURG – Landowners looking to enroll in the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP), which is designed to help landowners manage deer on their properties, have until June 12 to mail an application to the appropriate Game Commission Region Office. Applications will be accepted by U.S. mail only, as postmarks will be required to establish processing priorities.
In addition, a map delineating the property boundaries must be enclosed with the application. Landowners may obtain DMAP applications from the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) by clicking on “D.M.A.P.” in the “Quick Clicks” box in the right-hand column of the homepage. Applications also can be obtained from any Game Commission Region Office or the Harrisburg headquarters.
Eligible lands for DMAP are: public lands; private lands where no fee is charged for hunting; and hunting club lands owned in fee title so long as the club was established prior to Jan. 1, 2000, and it provides a club charter and list of current members to the agency.
Coupons for DMAP antlerless deer harvest permits are issued to landowners at a rate of one coupon for every five acres in agricultural operations or one coupon for every 50 acres for all other land uses. Management plans are required when an applicant for DMAP requests more than the standard rate for issuance of DMAP harvest permits, or when the property acreage falls below the minimum for the standard issuance rate.
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How To Avoid Being Eaten By Bears, 2010 Edition

Despite being quadrupeds, bears can stand and ...
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HARRISBURG – With spring well underway across the state, many Pennsylvanians are spending more time outdoors and seeing more wildlife – and signs of wildlife – in their yards and other places they frequent. Among the wildlife becoming more visible are Pennsylvania’s roughly 17,000 black bears, all of which are looking for food.

Since bears are found throughout most of the state, Mark Ternent, Pennsylvania Game Commission black bear biologist, said bear sightings are common at this time of year.   Food for bears is naturally scarce in spring until green-up, which is ahead of schedule this year. But that doesn’t mean bears emerging from dens aren’t getting into trouble. After several months of hibernation, they are once again searching for food.  Thus, sightings and, in some cases, conflicts are increasing.

Spring: When A Bear’s thoughts turn to Food

“Now is the time to keep bears from becoming a nuisance later in the summer,” Ternent said.  “Bears that wander near residential areas in search of springtime foods are less likely to stay or return if they do not find anything rewarding.  Conversely, if bears find food in backyards, they quickly learn to associate food with residential areas and begin to spend more time in those areas.  As a result, encounters between humans and bears, property damage and vehicle accidents involving bears may increase.”

Ternent noted capturing and moving bears that have become habituated to humans is a costly and sometimes ineffective way of addressing the problem.  That is why wildlife agencies around the country tell people that a “fed bear is a dead bear.”

“The best solution is to prevent bears from finding something to eat around your house in the first place,” Ternent said.  “Anything edible placed outside for any reason – whether it is food for wildlife or pets or unsecured garbage – gives bears a reason to visit your property.  Homeowners should begin now to remove food sources that might attract bears.”

5 Things to do to keep Bears off your Property

Ternent listed five suggestions that could prevent attracting bears to a property:

Play it smart. Do not feed wildlife. Food placed outside for wildlife, such as corn for squirrels, may attract bears.  Even bird feeders can become “bear magnets.”  Bear conflicts with bird feeding generally don’t arise in the winter because bears are in their winter dens.  But at other times of the year, birdfeeders will attract problem bears.  If you do chose to feed songbirds during the summer, Audubon Pennsylvania offers some tips, including: avoid foods that are particularly attractive for bears, such as sunflower seeds, hummingbird nectar mixes or suet; bring feeders inside at night; or suspend feeders from high crosswires so they are at least 10 feet above the ground and four feet from anything a bear can climb, including overhead limbs.

Keep it clean. Don’t put out garbage until pick-up day; don’t throw table scraps out back; don’t add fruit or vegetable wastes to your compost pile; and clean your barbecue grill regularly.  If you have pets and feed them outdoors, consider placing food dishes inside overnight. Encourage your neighbors to do the same.

Keep your distance. If a bear shows up in your backyard, stay calm. Shout at it like you would to chase an unwanted dog. Don’t approach it.  If the bear won’t leave, call the nearest Game Commission regional office or local police department for assistance.

Eliminate temptation. Bears that visit your area are often drawn there. Neighbors need to work together to reduce an area’s appeal to bears. Ask area businesses to keep dumpsters closed and bear-proofed (chained or locked shut with a metal lid).

Check please! If your dog is barking, or cat is clawing at the door to get in, try to determine what has alarmed your pet. But do it cautiously, using outside lights to full advantage and from a safe position, such as a porch or an upstairs window. All unrecognizable outside noises and disturbances should be checked, but don’t do it on foot with a flashlight. Black bears blend in too well with nighttime surroundings providing the chance for a close encounter.

Pennsylvanians also are reminded that if they see cubs alone, it does not necessarily mean they have been abandoned or orphaned.

“During the spring, sows may leave their cubs for several hours, typically up in a tree, while they forage,” Ternent said. “If you encounter cubs, leave the area the way you entered it and leave the cubs alone.  Staying in the vicinity prevents the mother from returning, and attempting to care for the cubs is illegal and may result in exposure to wildlife diseases or habituate the young bears to humans.

“Cubs that have been removed from the wild and habituated to people are difficult to rehabilitate for release back into the wild and may result in the cub being euthanized.”

Ternent noted that, as a result of Pennsylvania’s large human and bear populations, it is not uncommon for people and bears to encounter one another.

“Bears needn’t be feared, nor should they be dismissed as harmless; but they should be respected,” Ternent said.  “In the past 10 years fewer than 20 people have been injured by bears in Pennsylvania, and there are no known records of a Pennsylvania black bear killing a human.

“Injury from a black bear is often the result of a human intentionally or unintentionally threatening a bear, its cubs, or a nearby food source, and the best reaction is to defuse the threat by leaving the area in a quiet, calm manner.”

More Bear Tips:

Ternent also advised:

Stay Calm. If you see a bear and it hasn’t seen you, leave the area calmly.  Talk or make noise while moving away to help it discover your presence.  Choose a route that will not intersect with the bear if it is moving.

Get Back. If you have surprised a bear, slowly back away while talking softly.  Face the bear, but avoid direct eye contact.  Do not turn and run; rapid movement may be perceived as danger to a bear that is already feeling threatened.  Avoid blocking the bear’s only escape route and try to move away from any cubs you see or hear.  Do not attempt to climb a tree.  A female bear may falsely interpret this as an attempt to get at her cubs, even though the cubs may be in a different tree.

Pay Attention. If a bear is displaying signs of nervousness – pacing, swinging its head, or popping its jaws – about your presence, leave the area.  Some bears may bluff charge to within a few feet.  If this occurs, stand your ground, wave your arms wildly, and shout at the bear.  Turning and running could elicit a chase and you cannot outrun a bear.

Fight Back. If a bear attacks, fight back as you continue to leave the area.  Black bears have been driven away with rocks, sticks, binoculars, car keys, or even bare hands.

“Learning about bears and being aware of their habits is a responsibility that comes with living in rural and suburban Pennsylvania or recreating in the outdoors,” Ternent said.

In 2003, a regulation prohibiting the feeding of bears went into effect.  The regulation made it unlawful to intentionally “lay or place food, fruit, hay, grain, chemical, salt or other minerals that may cause bears to congregate or habituate an area.”  The exceptions to this regulation are “normal or accepted farming, habitat management practices, oil and gas drilling, mining, forest management activities or other legitimate commercial or industrial practices.”

The regulation enables Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officers (WCOs) to issue written notices that direct landowners to discontinue wildlife feeding, even if not intended for bears, including songbird feeding, if the feeding is attracting bears to the area and causing problems with bears nearby.

Report a Bear

To report nuisance bears, contact the Game Commission Region Office nearest you.  The telephone numbers are: Northwest Region Office in Franklin, Venango County, 814-432-3188; Southwest Region Office in Bolivar, Westmoreland County, 724-238-9523; Northcentral Region Office in Jersey Shore, Lycoming County, 570-398-4744; Southcentral Region Office in Huntingdon, Huntingdon County, 814-643-1831; Northeast Region Office in Dallas, Luzerne County, 570-675-1143; and Southeast Region Office in Reading, Berks County, 610-926-3136.

More information on bears is available on the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) by clicking on the “Wildlife” tab in the menu bar at the top of the homepage, and then selecting “Black Bears” From the “Mammals” section.

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