Pennsylvania – Tom Venesky

Bears basking in 'burbs befuddle hunters

It's not a big surprise that the harvest from the first three days of this year's bear season was lower than the record figure posted in 2011. After all, a record is tough to top. But here in the northeast, there are a couple of other potential reasons why the harvest after three days was significantly less than in 2011…

Stop baiting deer on southeast’s Red tag farms – it could spread CWD

Last April when the Pennsylvania Game Commission board approved the use of baiting (on a limited basis) on Red Tag farms in several southeastern counties during deer season, I didn't like it. Hunting deer over bait isn't ethical, in my opinion, but ethics aside it's a dangerous proposition. We all know that feeding deer congregates them. Baiting is essentially feeding,…

Game Commission needs to do a better job communicating

I was a bit surprised when I heard about the two bills introduced by state legislators last week — both directed toward the Game Commission. House Bill 2073 would remove the agency''s exemption from the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, adding another review process to any actions taken by the board. Senate Bill 1603 would slash the cost of a hunting…

At last, a mentored youth trout-fishing program!

The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission finally took the step I've been hoping the agency would take. During the board's quarterly meeting in Pittsburgh on Oct. 2, the board approved a mentored youth program that essentially gives kids — those 16 and under, their own opening day of trout season. The concept is the same as the Pennsylvania Game Commission's…

Worried about increasing prevalence of EHD in deer

For years hunters have expressed concern that the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s deer management program has reduced numbers to dangerously low levels in some areas of the state. While I agree this has happened in some instances, I can’t help but wonder if there is a greater threat on the horizon for Pennsylvania’s deer herd. This threat isn’t the result of…

The big picture looks great.

A recent survey conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that hunters nationwide increased by 9 percent, while the number of anglers jumped 11 percent in 2011. That’s great news, but on the state level things are disappointing. Pennsylvania hunting license sales dropped from 945,892 in 2006 to 933,208 last year. That’s alarming, considering the numerous efforts that…

Really, it’s amazing CWD hasn’t been discovered here

I could sense the despair in Dr. Walt Cottrell's voice. As the wildlife veterinarian for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Cottrell has seen virtually every malady that can strike any species in the state. He's seen it all… almost. The Game Commission has launched a media campaign, if you will, to raise awareness of the risk of chronic wasting disease and…

Still places in state that can support wild pheasants

Last week I spent a day with Pennsylvania Game Commission land manager Keith Sanford trapping and banding doves in Montour and Northumberland counties. The area is filled with picturesque farms and sprawling fields of switchgrass enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. The combination of cropland and reverting fields make the area a haven for farmland wildlife. Based on what…

Sometimes a black bear is not at all black …

The bear that Wildlife Conservation Officer Dave Allen live-trapped last month in Conyngham Township, Luzerne County, is so rare that the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s bear biologist has only handled two in 12 years. Out of the several thousand bears harvested each hunting season, only two or three are similar to the one Allen trapped. Making the situation even more unique,…

Thinking about beating the heat in late July

The behemoth woodchuck ambled a few yards into the pasture and munched on a patch of white clover. It was a 90-degree July afternoon, and the succulent clover was temptation enough to lure the fat chuck from its hole. I watched for a few minutes until the woodchuck decided the heat was too much and slowly meandered back to the…

New law give Fish & Boat Commission needed licensing flexibility

Recently, the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission was given the green light to get creative. Senate Bill 1049 was signed into law by Gov. Corbett. The legislation gives the agency the ability to issue multi-year licenses, group licenses (family, for example)and even offer promotional discounts. It's not yet known what exactly the commission's board will do with the new options,…

Senator asks for help to wipe away rock snot

In a press release issued last week, state Sen. Bob Casey urged the federal Department of Interior to give the Keystone State a hand in its battle against 'rock snot,' also known as didymo. The invasive algae, which coats the bottom of streams and river, effectively suffocating the ecosystem, has recently been found in the Delaware River. It's a serious…