Pennsylvania – Jeff Mulhollem

Pa. wild-hog-hunting days may be numbered

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is still trying to decide on a policy to control feral swine in the state. The wild pigs are considered to be among the most destructive of invasive species. When they escape from fences intended to control them for pay hunts — and they apparently regularly  do — the animals can inflict serious damage to habitat…

PGC officers write 2 warnings for every citation

Over the years, I have heard many complaints about Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife conservation officers being overzealous, unfair and too tough. But a report given by the agency's law-enforcement chief at the commissioners' recent work session in Harrisburg painted a different picture. Richard Palmer, director of the commission's Bureau of Wildlife Protection, told commissioners that 2012 is turning out to…

Did coyotes trigger the ticks-Lyme scourge?

I am always amazed at the interconnectedness of nature. One recently revealed example: it seems the explosive growth in the black-legged tick population and the burgeoning epidemic of Lyme disease is caused by a complex and fascinating series of ecological reactions involving the Eastern coyote. You can read about the most recent research on the subject, which was published in…

Weather story so far this year: Drought averted

The final chapters of the weather story for 2012, of course, have yet to be written, but halfway through the year the plot will surely focus on the dramatic swing in precipitation trends, according to a hydrologist in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. After the extremely warm and dry winter Pennsylvania experienced — one of the mildest since records…

Can’t help pondering fawns and predators

For years, folks who have voiced fears and strident warnings about the impact of predators on Pennsylvania’s deer fawns have been widely regarded as kooks and cranks. But a study unfolding in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan makes me wonder. Before I proceed any further, I want to, as they say in a court of law, stipulate to two Keystone…

Antlerless deer allocations may not come up at PGC's March work session

Following up on his commitment to make the workings of the game commissioners more open and transparent, President Game Commissioner Ralph Martone recently announced that the board will hold a public working-group meeting on Monday, March 26. The meeting, which will begin at 8 a.m., will be held in the auditorium of the Game Commission’s Harrisburg headquarters and will be…

Game commissioners open working group meetings to public, news media

Shortly after Game Commissioner Ralph Martone of New Castle took the gavel at the agency’s winter meeting in Harrisburg — becoming the board’s new president — he made an historic announcement. The commissioners’ working group sessions, their committee meetings, he said, will now be open to the public and the news media. After a century of hashing out most decisions…

Time for PGC to do all business in public

I want to say upfront that I admire the folks who have served and are serving as Pennsylvania game commissioners. Being a board member of the agency is mostly a thankless job, and the abuse they absorb from hunters furious over the state’s bitter deer debate is overwhelming. I wouldn’t do it, nor would most of you – they don’t…

Turns out, governor will create a council

The message, when it finally came, was humorously misleading. I wondered afterward if somebody in the governor’s office had a devious sense of humor – perhaps Tom Corbett himself. They really had us going! But I think more likely it was just a clumsy effort to let sportsmen know the administration had, at long last, realized it needed to empanel…

Politicians enter the argument over deer

Depending on your outlook, of course, it is either a really good thing or a very bad development that elected officials — politicians — are trying to get involved in or interfere with wildlife management in Pennsylvania. And it's all about deer, obviously. Recently we reported that Rep. David Maloney Sr., R-Berks, was seeking cosponsors for a bill he plans…

Sunday hunt sausage being made right now

I remember three decades or so ago, as a young newspaper reporter, asking a veteran state representative from my hometown district about the “negotiations” behind a solid waste disposal bill that was moving in Harrisburg. “Son,” he said in a condescending tone that I still resent, “you don’t want to see the sausage being made.” But truth is, I did….

All Pa. farmers don’t oppose Sunday hunting

If you have been closely following the debate over expanded Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania, you may think that all the farmers in Pennsylvania oppose lifting the ban. The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, which claims to represent 50,000 farm and rural families across the state, is staunchly opposed to any expansion of Sunday hunting here. According to the Farm Bureau, the overwhelming…

Sunday hunting fight going down to wire

Rep. Ed Staback wouldn’t say so, but I get the feeling he’s disillusioned with the national groups that persuaded him to introduce a bill to lift the ban on Sunday hunting. A coalition that includes the NRA, the National Wild Turkey Federation and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance — which is committed to legalizing Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania and 10 other…

Benefits, risks of Marcellus gas drilling

Seems like everyone in the state these days is talking about the effects of Marcellus natural-gas drilling — both good and bad.Government officials widely disagree. Depending on whom you listen to, shale gas development is either an unprecedented economic boom that we should blindly pursue without reservation or an ecological disaster waiting to happen on the scale of pollution from…

2011 a bad year for boating fatalities

Turns out that this year will go down as a bad one for boating fatalities in Pennsylvania. We know it already. By mid-July there had already been 13, according to the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission. Here's the rundown presented to commissioners at their recent quarterly meeting: — Fatality 1, Allegheny River, Venango County, April 17, 3:40 p.m. on a…

Real sportsmen don’t eat bean sprouts

I was telling a friend about a story I wrote recently, reporting on the E. Coli outbreak in Germany, how it was caused by eating bean sprouts, why it should be a warning to Americans, and how I’m sort of paranoid these days about eating anything that grows close to the ground.Because he knows that I am both a science…

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…

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…

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…