Pennsylvania – Tom Venesky

New Governor’s Advisory Council for Hunting, Fishing and Conservation holds first quarterly meeting.

The council's first task will be screening candidates for two vacant commissioner seats on the Pennsylvania Game Commission board. On March 26 the council was expected to interview nine applicants who have applied for the vacant seats in the southeast and northcentral regions. It’s going to be a long process, but one that the council should be able to finish…

Gov. Corbett should not open more public forestland to gas drilling

As Gov. Tom Corbett prepares the state budget, there is concern that he may allow additional leasing of state forest land for natural-gas drilling. Approximately 700,000 of the 2.2 million acres of state forest land has already been leased.Last week, more than 40 sportsmen’s groups representing 100,000-plus hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts sent a letter to Corbett asking that he…

Displaying a license less hassle than digging out wallet

I’m not sure where the sudden demand to do away with the license-display requirement came from, but I do know it’s an issue that highlights just how different the Pennsylvania Game Commission and Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission truly are. Especially when it comes to law enforcement. Beginning with the 2012 hunting season, hunting licenses will no longer need to…

Numbers don't lie on Sunday hunting

The numbers were telling. They were revealed during a recent public forum with the Pennsylvania Game Commission and two state legislators. The event was held in Hanover Township, Luzerne County, and the panel consisted of Game Commission Executive Director Carl Roe, Commissioner Jay Delaney and state Reps. Ed Staback and Gerald Mullery. Both are on the House Game and Fisheries…

Coming face to face with gas-drilling ‘impact’

I doubt the pros and cons of Marcellus Shale drilling will be settled anytime soon. One side contends that gas drilling carries minimal impact, won’t contaminate water and the environment, and brings with it huge economic gains. Those with concerns about drilling argue that the practice does contaminate groundwater, is an intrusion on the environment and, while it may benefit…

There are so many unknowns to Marcellus gas drilling

The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission wants to lease its land (pending board approval) and sell its water to gas companies drilling in the Marcellus shale. It sounds alarming, considering a partnership between an agency charged with managing and protecting aquatic life could be partnering with an industry that has been accused of contaminating ground water, streams and lakes. Thankfully,…

Overlooking a critical consideration

There is something lost in the Sunday hunting debate. Dialogue from both sides of the issue picked up steam this week after the Pennsylvania Game Commission board approved a resolution supporting Sunday hunting.Those in favor of Sunday hunting rattled off several points as to why we should be allowed to hunt seven days a week.They say it will increase hunting…

Healing waters run deep in northeast Pa.

On a sunny Wednesday afternoon in early May, Dotter’s Creek in Monroe County became more than a Class A wild trout stream. It was a place of healing. Twenty one veterans from wars ranging from Vietnam to Afghanistan came to Dotters Creek, and for a few hours their minds focused only on the clear water and the trout below. The…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Game Laws Need Even Bigger Teeth

When an Allegheny County man was sentenced to jail last week for poaching, the case set an important precedent. And it also exposed a serious shortcoming in the law. According to a Pennsylvania Game Commission release, Anthony Mark Marasco was sentenced to two 90-day concurrent prison sentences and ordered to pay more than $4,750 in fines after being convicted of…

Fish Consumption Advisories: Sign of the Times

Every time the state issues the list, I cringe.The latest one came out earlier this month – an updated fish consumption advisory for 2011, and it tells us which waterways are basically contaminated to the point that we have to limit how often, and how much, we can eat fish from those waters.It’s a sad reflection on just how much…

Deer Study Yields Interesting, Puzzling Results

It simply defies logic.An ongoing study by the Pennsylvania Game Commission to gauge the impact of the split buck and doe rifle season has yielded some interesting, and puzzling, data.Jim Stickles, the PGC’s field crew leader in charge of the study in Wildlife Management Unit 3C, told me last week that despite having trapped and radio-collared 91 more antlerless deer…

Time to Praise Wildlife Officials

Here’s a novel approach: In an age where it’s the norm to criticize our state wildlife agencies for everything under the sun (sometimes deserved, sometimes not), one of those agencies would actually like us to let them know when one of their own has done a good job. The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission has a new section on its…