Staff Report

New York grouse drumming survey offers a glimpse into bird numbers

Albany — One of DEC’s chief gauges of the statewide ruffed grouse population comes from, ironically, spring turkey hunters. That annual grouse drumming survey is more a product of sounds than sightings; turkey hunters tally the number of grouse they hear drumming during the bird’s breeding season in May. The results show a per-hour “drumming rate” and changes in that…

Pennsylvania game agency says fawn numbers are holding steady

Harrisburg — Once again, it all comes down to antlerless licenses. Hunters, for decades, have been told that shooting more or fewer antlerless deer is the one best way to control deer populations across Pennsylvania. The same is true, apparently, when it comes to fawns and predators. That was the message delivered at the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s most recent meeting….

Should ‘rabbit fever’ be a concern for Illinois?

Springfield — In a state that has seen a steady decline in rabbit hunters, the bad news sort of seems like nature “piling on.” But health officials say the confirmed human case of tularemia – better known as rabbit fever – does not mean handling wild rabbits is dangerous. Illinois Department of Public Health veterinarian Connie Austin said rabbit fever…

In New York, opposition brewing to proposed mallard harvest limit

Waverly, N.Y. — While waterfowl seasons are in place for this year, there’s already opposition brewing to a 2019-20 plan to trim the mallard limit in the Atlantic Flyway from its current four birds to two. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Atlantic Flyway Council confirmed the plan to trim the daily mallard harvest number to two birds,…

Pennsylvania fish agency’s shad program appears at crossroads

Harrisburg — Fishermen are by nature optimists, right? The next cast is always going to be the one. So maybe they’ll see cause for hope here. The number of American shad returning to Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River were, in 2018, the worst since records started being kept 20 years ago. The Fish & Boat Commission stocks between 2 million and 5…

A Saturday deer opener in Pennsylvania? It may be in the mix

Harrisburg, Pa. — Some of today’s hunters admittedly may not like it. But some of tomorrow’s may need it. That’s the thinking of at least some Pennsylvania Game commissioners when it comes to the notion of moving the opening day of Pennsylvania’s statewide firearms deer season to the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The Monday after Thanksgiving is the “traditional” opener. It’s…

Pennsylvania Game Commission looks to force towns to use hunters in deer culling

Harrisburg — It doesn’t seem all that difficult at first blush, defining what is and isn’t public hunting. Ah, but you’d be wrong. The Pennsylvania Game Commission has learned that and is taking steps to address it. When the agency holds its next meeting on July 30-31, commissioners will be asked to update their definition of public hunting. The goal,…

Boat stewards will monitor New York waters for invasives

Albany — State officials, ahead of the busy boating season on New York waters, announced that boat stewards will be deployed at nearly 200 locations in an effort to halt the unintentional introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species. The DEC, state Department of Transportation and Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation boat steward partnership “provides a vital function…

Boat launches closed at Blue Marsh Lake 

Reading, Pa. — Due to recent rains and flood damage reduction actions at Blue Marsh Lake the boat launches there are closed to the Public. The lake level is three feet over normal summer pool and still rising. This morning it was determined that the Schuylkill river could accept additional storm run-off and at 9 a.m. actions were taken by the…

In Pennsylvania, Pymatuning Lake the place to be for spring fishing

Linesville, Pa. — Muskies? Yeah, you might say Pymatuning Lake in Crawford County has a few. Sort of like the way the night sky has a few stars. A couple of things prove that. First, early this spring, Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission biologists did their annual trap net survey of the 17,000-plus acre lake that straddles the Pennsylvania-Ohio border….

Decline of mallards will lead to reduced bag limits in Pennsylvania

Harrisburg — No one’s blaming hunters. Not just yet. But they’re going to pay the price first anyway. Pennsylvania, like all states in the Atlantic Flyway, has set waterfowl seasons and bag limits for 2018-19. They are nearly identical to last year, at least as far as ducks are concerned. Hunters will be allowed one additional pintail per day this…

New York youth turkey hunt spawns special events

Penn Yan, N.Y. — New York state’s popular youth turkey hunt weekend celebrated its 15th anniversary last month, and the special offering for 12- to 15-year-olds has spawned numerous special events across the state. One of the most successful events this year was the Yates County Youth Turkey Hunt, where a record 19 birds were harvested by the young hunters….

Amid Pennsylvania CWD fears, biologists propose more doe tags

Staff Report Harrisburg — Disease trumps habitat, it seems. In recommending how many doe licenses to make available for the 2018-19 hunting seasons, Pennsylvania Game Commission deer biologists proposed big changes in two wildlife management units. One was 2G, the other 2C. The commission issued 25,500 doe tags for 2G last season. Biologists recommended 39,000 for this fall. It’s getting…

PGC biologist predicts a great spring gobbler season in Pennsylvania

Harrisburg — The state’s turkey population numbers between 210,000 to 220,000 birds on the eve of this spring gobbler season, according to Mary Jo Casalena, the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s wild turkey biologist. “The turkey population will provide plenty of excitement for those who choose to head afield for the commonwealth’s golden anniversary spring turkey hunt,” she said. “Make no mistake,…

Crossbow expansion dropped from New York’s state budget

Albany — Language within the state budget that would have expanded crossbow use into the entire archery season was ultimately dropped from the final version of the spending plan. It was another disappointment for hunters – notably seniors and physically challenged sportsmen unable to draw a compound bow – who want to extend their deer hunting season. Currently, crossbows are…

Charges filed in shooting of white pelicans at Newton Lake

American white pelicans. (Minnesota DNR)NEWTON, Ill. — Thanks to information provided by the public, charges have been filed against two Newton teenagers in connection with the illegal shooting of American white pelicans at Newton Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area, discovered on April 3. Five pelicans were found dead at Newton Lake by DNR site staff. Another pelican found shot and wounded was taken…

Pennsylvania’s senior pheasant hunters may soon be exempt from fees

Harrisburg — The days of senior lifetime hunting license holders having to buy a $25 permit to hunt pheasants in Pennsylvania may soon be over. So, too, might the days of fewer birds. Last September, state Rep. Bryan Cutler, a Lancaster County Republican, introduced House Bill 1764. He did so at the urging of a senior hunter in his district…

Illinois anglers named to Bassmaster All-State squad

Springfield — Two high school anglers from Illinois have been named to the 2018 Bassmaster High School All-State Fishing Team, while three others received honorable mention. Alec Berens, of Channahon, and Tyler Lubbat, of Wheeling, joined 62 other fishermen from all over the country on the All-State team. Both are now candidates to be named to the 12-member All-American fishing…

In New York, channel cat, freshwater drum records shattered

Albany — New York anglers landed a pair of new state record fish last year, as well as numerous other noteworthy catches, DEC officials said. DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said the catches recorded in the state’s Angler Achievement Awards program “are a prime example of the high quality and diverse fish found in New York’s waters. I’m proud to honor…

Pennsylvania turkey numbers stable, PGC biologist says

Harrisburg — Pennsylvania’s most avid spring turkey hunters are going all in. With the 2018 season fast approaching – the youth only spring gobbler hunt is April 21, the regular season April 28 to May 31 – expect many to buy a second turkey tag. That’s been the trend. Mary Jo Casalena, the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s turkey biologist, said sales…