Canadensis, Pa. — As this issue went to press, state and local police, assisted by the FBI, continued to search for an accused cop killer in the rugged, dense woods around this Poconos town.
Hunting seasons remained closed in four townships in Pike and Monroe counties, and the manhunt was costing more than $1 million per week.
The round-the-clock manhunt for Eric Frein – the man accused of gunning down two Pennsylvania state troopers – involving as many as 1,000 officers each day from three states, was in its fifth week.
The hunt for Frein, the unemployed 31-year-old survivalist and war re-enactor, is setting a precedent. In its more than century-long history, state police have conducted several manhunts, ranging from a few hours to months.
Most involved search parties sent out after escaped convicts who eluded capture for as long as five months. Some were dragnets for murder suspects that lasted several days.
But they’ve never had to keep so many officers on such a sustained, round-the-clock search before. And authorities estimated that is was costing $1.3 million per week.
Frein allegedly ambushed two troopers Sept. 12 outside the state police barracks in Blooming Grove Township, Pike County.
Lying in wait in the woods outside the barracks with his .308 caliber rifle, Frein, reportedly a skilled sharp-shooter, allegedly killed Cpl. Bryon Dickson and critically wounded Trooper Alex Douglass.
Police say Frein spent months – perhaps years – planning the crime and fled into the deep woods around his parents’ Canadensis home after the shooting. Police formed a dragnet, creating a 5-square-mile noose that they’ve been trying to tighten ever since.
There have been several sightings and evidence that Frein left behind supplies, cigarettes, ammunition and even a hand-written journal, but he remains at large.
Wildlife conservation officers from the Pennsylvania Game Commission have helped sporadically with the search, and the agency provided an elite tracking team early on in the investigation.
Also, the FBI sent 140 to 200 employees in the field each day, including agents, analysts, technicians, three full SWAT teams and members of a hostage-rescue team.
The Game Commission, on Oct. 10, lifted the temporary prohibition on hunting and trapping within some portions of Pike County that previously were closed due to the ongoing search for Frein.
Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough amended the executive order he issued the week before, providing for the immediate reopening of all hunting and trapping seasons in all of Lehman Township, and the eastern portions of Blooming Grove and Porter townships, all of which are in Pike County.
The amended order also reopened to public use most of the previously closed portion of State Game Land 180 within Pike County. The State Game Land 183 shooting range in Palmyra Township, Pike County, also was reopened to public use.
Meanwhile, hunting and trapping remained closed within all of Greene Township, Pike County, as well as all of Price, Barrett and Paradise townships in Monroe County.
Portions of state game lands 183 and 221 remain closed to the public, as does the western tip of State Game Land 180.
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Ellen Ferretti said state forest lands in the portions of Pike County noted by the Game Commission also will be reopened to hunters and other recreational users.
State forest lands in the areas impacted by the Game Commission closure remained off-limits to forest visitors.
The amended executive order also created special requirements for hunters within the previously closed areas in Pike County.
The areas of Pike and Monroe counties that are part of the area initially closed to hunting and trapping all are within Wildlife Management Unit 3D.
The area that was reopened is most easily defined by existing roads. All of Lehman Township was reopened to hunting and trapping, and so were the portions of Porter Township east of state Route 402.
In Blooming Grove Township, starting from its northern border of U.S. Route 6, portions east of state Route 739, south of U.S. Route 84 and east of state Route 402 are now open to hunting.