PenBlogs

Extinction of Eastern cougar met with sadness in Nittany Valley

You’ll understand if the recent proposal from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to declare the Eastern cougar extinct takes on a special significance at Penn State, where the Nittany Lion has been the University’s mascot since 1904.After a lengthy review, federal officials in March revealed their conclusion that there are no breeding populations of cougars — also known as…

Land preservation – What the PA Game Commission does best

We have two wildlife agencies in Pennsylvania – the Game Commission and the Fish & Boat Commission. I gladly buy licenses and therefore “support” both agencies each year. Many of you do the same. Since I favor long-term lasting gains over short-term thinking, I’m not always happy about where my license money goes.If we were having an inter-agency contest –…

Stocked Trout – at what cost?

The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission has two serious problems that they seem to be unwilling or unable to address – disappearing stocked trout and how much their hatchery system actually costs license buyers. Raising stocked trout is a big business for the PFBC. They spend millions of dollars to raise and stock adult hatchery trout. This year, approximately 3.2…

I'll pass on all day turkey hunting

I never thought I would turn down an added opportunity to hunt longer and spend more time in the woods, but I am. This spring, I won't hunt past noon during the final two weeks of the gobbler season. The Pennsylvania Game Commission is giving hunters that opportunity this year, by extending the hunting hours from a half hour before…

Way past time for county treasurers to get out of doe-license sales

At the April meeting of the House Game and Fisheries Committee, the politicians again thumbed their nose at sportsmen. Members voted against moving HB 524 (which would allow the Game Commission and designated issuing agents to sell antlerless licenses). That effectively preserves county treasurers’ monopoly on selling doe licenses. The vote was 15-10 against the bill. However, the committee voted…

Let Kids Have First Crack at Trout Opener

Several years ago I witnessed a shameful scene during the first day of trout season. It was along the banks of a popular stream, filled with wide, deep pools meandering through an open forest. The slow-flowing pools were easy to cast into, and the brush-free banks made access easy for all. Including children.Anglers of all ages lined the bank, and…

Big-money outdoor sports contests and the polygraph

During my writing career, I have covered many hunting and fishing contests.  The events are certainly exciting and draw large crowds. However, without fail, grumblings and accusations about some type of foul play are heard at every contest. The organizers must attempt to prevent and deal with suspected cheating. It is not an easy job.Take something as traditional and sporting…

CWD in PA: a question of when, not if

A prediction made by two Pennsylvania Game Commission officials recently is extremely alarming. One official – PGC wildlife veterinarian Dr. Walter Cottrell – said in a story that appeared in Pennsylvania Outdoors News that it's probable that chronic wasting disease is either already in the state or it's only a matter of time before it arrives. Cottrell's remark was made…

Don’t hold your breath waiting for Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania

I don’t think the Sunday-hunting ban will be lifted here, no matter how much money and resources national groups such as the National Shooting Sports Foundation or the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance pour into our state. And they say their campaign is starting now. Because right or wrong, Sunday hunting looks like it has become a partisan issue in Pennsylvania. Republicans…

Misplaced Anger

One month ago, in a 22-page decision, Commonwealth Court dismissed the lawsuit filed against the Pennsylvania Game Commission by the Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania.  The lawsuit had claimed that the agency was using fraudulent science to manage deer. It also alleged that the deer herd was not being managed in the best interests of hunters or the deer themselves. This…

John Arway is right: Pa. should charge for use of water

I heard a story this week related to the Marcellus natural-gas play that is disturbing. Not illegal or perhaps even unethical, mind you, but troubling all the same. And it illustrates a problem our commonwealth is ignoring.It seems a long-ago established and successful central Pennsylvania trucking company, which is located on the bank of a well-known creek — that is…

Winter Trout

Since New Year’s Day, I have been anxious to do some winter trout fishing, but central Pennsylvania has had a colder than average winter. Any remotely possible weather day just never suited my schedule. Finally, on Feb. 16, we had a day with great potential for winter trout fishing.Freestone or limestone stream  — there wasn’t really a choice. Bald Eagle…

On Sunday Hunting and Mixed Signals from NRA

It makes me leery that the National Rifle Association is among a group of national organizations pushing for the implementation of Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania and the 10 other states where it is either prohibited or limited.  Why?Because this is the same organization that so vehemently opposed state Rep. Ed Staback’s anti-poaching bill – the one that is currently sending…

Doe Season Length & Structure

One oft-debated “Deer Wars” topic here in Pennsylvania is the length and timing of antlerless deer season. Hunter views run the gamut from supporting 12 days of concurrent buck and doe season, favoring 7 or fewer days of concurrent, to 1 to 3 days following buck season or just being against doe season entirely.  I began hunting during the era of…

Boop’s Pain

Hunting, fishing and just getting out is the fun part of this job, but unfortunately many of the decisions that greatly affect our favorite sports are made in meetings. One such event was the Jan. 30 – Feb. 1 PA Game Commission meeting in Harrisburg. The official news releases tell everyone what happened – a longer bear season, altered turkey seasons,…

Not everyone loves no-kill bass regs on troubled Susquehanna River

Maybe it's just me. For the last several years I have been thinking a lot about the implications of anglers hooking and temporarily removing spawning bass from beds and making their eggs and fry vulnerable to predators such as bluegills. My son is currently conducting research with largemouth bass at the University of Illinois on the question, involving bass and…

New 2011 Hunting Regs Worth Looking Forward To

I’m looking forward to hunting turkeys in the fall again.  Not that I don’t look forward to the fall turkey season every year, but after experiencing the new split season that was in place for 2010, it was hard to get excited for a repeat in 2011.Why?Two reasons: The fact that the season started a week later and a Saturday…

Are coyotes keeping deer numbers low in state?

As deer numbers continue to be low on the vast public lands in the state‘s northern tier, and even in many places south of Interstate 80, hunters search for reasons why. They keep coming back to coyotes. Even though the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s deer biologists have consistently claimed that coyote predation on fawns is not increasing, according to their data,…