Week of May 10, 2004

National

Canada

Regional

General

Illinois

Indiana

Michigan

Minnesota

New York

Pennsylvania

       Weekly News Archives

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       New Product  Archives

National

Interior announces new regs for endangered species;

 for voluntary conservation measures on private property

Assistant Secretary of the Interior Craig Manson announced revised regulations that will encourage private landowners to undertake voluntary conservation measures on their property to benefit threatened, endangered and at-risk species.

                

The new regulations will improve USFWS's Safe Harbor and Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances policies by providing clearer definitions and more certainty to property owners, Manson said.            

                  

Under a Safe Harbor agreement, private landowners agree to take actions on their property to benefit species that are listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.  In return, they receive assurances that their conservation measures will not lead to further restrictions on the use of the land if they lead to an increase in the population of the species on the property.             

The revised regulations will make such agreements easier to understand and implement, by eliminating inconsistencies between the policies and the regulations used to implement them. In addition, experience gained since the policies and regulations were adopted in 1999 has shown the need to clarify ambiguities in the regulations that have been causing confusion for landowners.         

 

The rule more explicitly provides landowners with greater certainty that such agreements will be altered only if continuing an authorized activity may jeopardize the existence of the protected species.  The rule also ensures that traditional agricultural uses can continue alongside habitat

improvements.

                 

"More than half of threatened and endangered species depend on private lands for habitat, and if we are going to recover many of these species, we must work hand-in-hand with landowners to restore their habitat," Manson said.


House Resources Committee Approves Migratory Bird Treaty Act Amendment
On May 5, the House Resources Committee approved HR 4114, a bill that seeks to clarify Congress' intent that non-native birds should not be protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The bill now heads to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

 

Sponsored by Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), the bill was developed as a response to a 2001 District of Columbia Circuit Court ruling that the non-native Mute Swan was

protected under the Act. The ruling changed state and federal fish and wildlife managers' interpretation that the MBTA applied only to native birds and undermined their ability to manage potentially harmful invasive species.

 

Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) amended the original bill to include a requirement that the Secretary of the Interior publish a list of all the non-native, migratory birds to which the MBTA does not apply. The double-crested cormorant could be included in this listing.


Resources Committee Unanimously Passes Tribal Forest Protection Act

Bill gives tribes the ability to protect land, resources

Washington, DC – The House Committee on Resources on May 5th unanimously approved H.R. 3846, the Tribal Forest Protection Act of 2004, introduced by Resources Committee Chairman Richard W. Pombo (R-CA). With strong bipartisan support and four democratic cosponsors, the bill will now move to the floor for consideration by the House.

 

Consistent - and in conjunction – with the Healthy Forests

Restoration Act, this legislation establishes a process for tribes to work with federal agencies to perform hazardous fuel reduction and forest health projects on adjacent lands to prevent catastrophic wildfire.

 

In the summer of 2003, nearly 20 Indian reservations were devastated by wildfire that came from adjacent federal lands. Over half occurred in Southern California where more than 30,000 acres and 130 homes were consumed, killing 10 people. Two of the reservations were burned entirely to the ground.


Canada

Canada vows to combat overfishing near its waters

Reuters

OTTAWA — The Canadian government said last week it was cracking down on foreign trawlers, which it accused of illegally catching endangered and undersized fish just outside Canada's 200-mile limit in the Atlantic Ocean.  Fisheries Minister Geoff Regan said Canadian Coast Guard vessels had boarded five trawlers in the past week and issued two citations to a Portuguese vessel accused of illegal fishing.

 

He said Canada would spend an extra C$15 million (US$11 million) to boost patrols off the Grand Banks and would board more foreign vessels. Regan told reporters that in 2003 foreign fishing fleets had illicitly caught about 15,000 tons of fish protected by moratoriums, including cod and American plaice.

 

"We are appalled by this blatant disregard for international rules and obligations.... Current scientific advice indicates that catches at this level will prevent recovery and could cause virtual destruction of these stocks in three to five years," he said. "This is not acceptable.... (We will) take more aggressive and visible action on multiple fronts."

 

The Canadian fishing industry — hard hit a decade ago by the collapse of cod stocks — has long complained about the activities of foreign boats on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks off Newfoundland.  Although the area is outside the

200-mile limit, Regan said Canada was entitled under the rules of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization to clamp down on illegal fishing.

 

Prime Minister Paul Martin — who last year promised he would consider extending Canada's sovereignty to protect all of the Grand Banks — said Ottawa would take "all necessary legal steps" to protect its fish stocks. "Foreign overfishing by rogue ships and their owners is unacceptable to Canadians, to this government, and to me as prime minister. It must be stopped. It will be stopped," he said in a statement.

 

Regan said that after the increased activity of the last week, foreign trawlers had been spotted moving away from the Grand Banks and into deeper waters. He said he hoped Canada could protect endangered fish by "harassing these international modern-day pirates on the sea with further boardings and inspections".

 

Foreign Minister Bill Graham said Ottawa had summoned the ambassadors of Portugal and the European Union to complain.

 

In 1995 Canada seized one Spanish ship and slashed the expensive nets of another vessel in a hot-tempered dispute over what Ottawa said was excessive turbot fishing.

 


Regional

Weekly Great Lakes Water Levels for May 7, 2004 

Current Lake Levels: 

Lakes Superior, Michigan-Huron, St. Clair, and Erie are 7, 19, 9, and 5 inches, respectively, below their long-term average.  Lake Ontario is currently 1 inch below its long-term.  All of the Great Lakes are above last year’s water levels.  Lake Superior is 3 inches above, while the remaining lakes are 4-7 inches above last year’s levels. 


Current Outflows/Channel Conditions: 

The Lake Superior outflow through the St. Marys River into Lake Huron is expected to be near average during the month of May.  Flows in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers are expected to be below average during May, while Niagara and St. Lawrence River flows are expected to be near average.

 

Temperature/Precipitation Outlook: 

A series of weather disturbances will keep conditions

unsettled through the weekend and into early next week.  Many

locations have the chance for rain showers each day through next Wednesday, with some locations expected to receive heavy rain.  Near-normal temperatures are anticipated over the next week.

 

Forecasted Water Levels: 

All of the Great Lakes continue their normal seasonal rise.  Over the next month, levels are expected to increase 4 inches on Lake Superior and 3 inches on Lake Michigan-Huron.  Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are expected to rise 1-2 inches over the next month. 

 

Alerts:

Users of the Great Lakes, connecting channels and St. Lawrence River should keep informed of current conditions before undertaking any activities that could be affected by changing water levels.  Mariners should utilize navigation charts and refer to current water level readings.


General

Johnson Outdoors buys Humminbird

Johnson Outdoors Inc. has significantly stepped up its marine presence, acquiring Techsonic Industries and its popular Humminbird brand of boating electronics from Teleflex Inc.

 

The deal, announced may 6, unites Humminbird with Johnson Outdoors’ popular Minn Kota brand of trolling motors, which has been delivering the company year-to-date record sales.  Humminbird’s major new products include the Smartcast

wireless remote fishfinder with mobile, rod and wrist-mount viewing options, and the Matrix fishing system.

 

Techsonic calls itself a global leader in underwater sonar and video viewing and GPS technologies. The company, which has been owned by Teleflex Inc. since 1993, employs 172 people at Eufaula, Ala., and Alpharetta, Ga.  Those two sites mean Racine, Wis.-based Johnson Outdoors now will operate at 26 locations worldwide.


USCG Alert for Defective Life Jackets

The U.S. Coast Guard has recently discovered defective snap hooks with corroded spring clips installed on four models of U.S. Coast Guard Approved Lifejackets, Type I personal flotation devices manufactured by Cal-June Inc., a.k.a. Jim Buoy. The snap hook assembly is the key component used to ensure primary closure for these lifejackets. The spring clip is a component of the snap hook assembly and the mechanism that keeps the hook from disengaging once connected to the D-ring of the lifejacket’s chest strap.

 

Improper materials were used during the manufacturing process. Consequently, due to the corrosive nature of marine environments it is only a matter of time until these defective snap hooks deteriorate and fail to operate as designed.

 

Cal-June Inc. has acknowledged that the snap hook springs are defective and is committed to replacing all defective snap hooks with new snap hook assemblies at no cost to lifejacket owners. They have determined that the defective snap hooks were only used on lifejackets having lot numbers identified in the table below. A total of 5,371 lifejackets were manufactured with the defective snap hooks and sold between October 1, 2002 and March 15, 2004.

 

Should you discover this problem or if you have identified your lifejackets by the lot numbers listed, contact Cal-June Inc. at 818.761.3516 or e-mail at email@jim-buoy.com to receive replacement snap hooks. Include in your communication the model number, lot number, quantity of life jackets requiring

 

replacements and a shipping address to send replacements. There is no need to return the lifejacket to the factory.

Replacement instructions for the snap hook are available at http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-m/moa/docs/replacement.pdf.

 

Lot Numbers having Defective Snap Hooks:

1556  1558  1560  1561  1562 1563 1564

1565  1566  1567  1570  1573 1574 1575  1576 

 

Model #s.      Approval #s.

601 Adult     160.055/115/0 

603 Child     160.055/116/0 

 

Model #s.                  Approval #s.

SO-1 Adult SOLAS  160.155/1/0 

SO-2 Child SOLAS  160.155/2/0 

 

Contact Cal-June immediately to obtain replacements for spring clips that are corroded or determined to be magnetic.

 

If similar problems are identified with other life jackets not manufactured by Cal-June, or if you have questions regarding this safety alert, contact Mr. Daniel McCormick of the Lifesaving and Fire Safety Standards Division at dmccormick@comdt.uscg.mil  or 202-267-2713.

 

General questions regarding this safety alert or its delivery may be addressed to Mr. Ken Olsen of the Office of Investigations and Analysis at kolsen@comdt.uscg.mil  or 202-267-1417.


Michelin Mistake

A major tire company has either been duped by animal rights extremists, or is willing to risk “blowouts” in sales from tens of millions of sportsmen worldwide.  Michelin is rolling out a new television campaign through which it announces it will give  $5 to the American Humane Association’s Red Star Emergency Services every time the tire producer distributes a bobblehead set featuring the “Michelin Man and his faithful dog” to one of its paying customers.

 

American Humane, which is virulently anti-hunting, is rated by

online nonprofit guide Charity Navigator with an abysmal one out of a possible four stars, even worse than HSUS’ poor two stars and PETA’s unimpressive three stars.

 

Safari Club International  urges hunters to sound off to Michelin about its decision to support this animal extremist group.  Write to Michelin; Consumer Relations Department; PO Box 19001; Greenville, SC 29602-9001; or call 800-847-3435, 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. EST.

 


Illinois

Boat Rental areas and family campgrounds open

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County's family campground and boat-rental area at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville are now open. The boat-rental area at Herrick Lake Forest Preserve in Wheaton is scheduled to open soon when dredging work at the lake is completed.

 

Sixty semi-private family campsites are available at the campground area north of Silver Lake in Blackwell Forest Preserve. The campground is open through September 26, Friday and Saturday nights only with additional days on holiday weekends.

 

Each campsite includes a gravel parking pad, fire ring and picnic table. All campsites are suitable for tents, and a limited number of sites are available for trailers and motor homes. Latrines, hand pumps and trash containers can be found throughout the campground. Each site allows a maximum of eight people and two tents.

 

Each permit holder must be at least 21 years old and remain on-site all night. Fees, which are nonrefundable, are $10 per night per site for county residents and $15 per night per site for nonresidents. Sites with electricity are $15 per night per site for residents and $20 per night per site for nonresidents.

For additional details or to make a reservation, call Visitor Services at (630) 933-7248.

 

The boat-rental area at Blackwell is open weekends only through May 30 from 8 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. Daily operations run from Memorial Day, May 31, through Labor Day, September 6 from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekends. After Labor Day, operations will return to weekends only through September 26 from 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

 

Rowboats, with or without trolling motors, and canoes can be rented for a fee by the hour or by the day. The area sells night crawlers and wax worms for eager anglers and offers vending machines for all visitors. Individuals with private boats may purchase daily or yearly permits to put in at Silver Lake as well.

 

When it opens, the boat-rental area at Herrick Lake Forest Preserve in Wheaton will have the same hours of operation as at Blackwell. Canoes and rowboats without trolling motors will be available for rent for a fee by the hour or by the day, but private boat owners will be not be able to put in at Herrick Lake.

 

For more info call the Visitor Services office at 630-933-7248.


Corps Approves new Lake Michigan Harbor

Evanston City Council vote 5-4 to keep discussion alive

After receiving a $100,000 Federal grant to study the feasibility of a new Lake Michigan marina at the southeast end of Evanston, the study by the Army Corps of  Engineers was presented to the Evanston City Council on April 26. 

 

The Corps placed their initial stamp of approved on the proposal and recommended proceeding  with the next phase because they found a very real demand for slip space. The study noted no traffic problems or noise problems, and no environmental problems, and  they also found about half of the people they surveyed were in favor of the project.  The study The study recommended a 385 slip marina with  landfill parking.

 

At Monday evening's City Council meeting just minutes after the report was presented, and before anyone had even looked at, much less read and studied the report, two aldermen attempted to close the project down without any further discussion. Fortunately, there were enough votes (5-4) to  keep the discussion alive for now.

 

The first phase was to have a study done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and get their approval for the Harbor.  Federal grant dollars were applied for with the help of Representative Jan Schakowsky, to have a feasibility study done and also get the Army Corps approval for the harbor. The proposal is to build the harbor off the shore of South Blvd Rd., similar to Wisconsin's  Racine Harbor.

 

Evanston Boat Ramp Association President Frank Didier tells

us: "We have seen no plans or pictures of the harbor yet, and the Corps as part of the study are to talk to boaters and users of the lake front. We know of only one boater that was contacted so we don't know who they talked to." "They came up with 56% against the harbor and 46% for the harbor" Didier added.

 

The Corps approved the building of the harbor on Friday last week (April 23). "It was for a 385 boat slip and 310 car parking area." Didier said "The ball is now in Evanston's court. They have a green light. They presented the findings to the people at last Monday night's board meeting." Didier added,  "Now it's back to the drawing board for more study and the hiring of a consultant. the estimated cost is $ 22 - 25 Million dollars so far."

 

Evanston Chamber of Commerce President Richard Peach says: "It would be a welcome addition to the community. We see it as major financial engine for our city."

 

The Evanston Ramp Association folks tell us there are enough boaters in the area to fill three harbors this size, and that the facility is sorely needed  From a safety perspective there is a need for more "safe haven" or "Harbor of Refuge" ports on Lake Michigan's western shore.  The lake in the proximity of Evanston  serves a metropolitan area from Chicago to Milwaukee with about 11 million people, and a new harbor would be ideally suited as another safe haven or "Harbor of Refuge" port. It would be a welcome addition to this always busy shore of  the lake.

 


Indiana

DNR to begin gypsy moth treatments week of May 10

Once again the Indiana DNR will continue the fight to slow the spread of the gypsy moth in Indiana. For more 25 years the pest has been held in check and confined to comparatively small infestations in Indiana. The first round of treatments of the infested areas are scheduled to begin Tuesday, May 11 at about 5 a.m. One flight will commence over the areas in Elkhart County.   

 

Another flight, over the infested areas in DeKalb, Noble, Whitley, LaGrange LaPorte, Porter, Lake and rural Allen counties, will begin just after 5 a.m. That flight will continue through the afternoon as long as the weather and flight schedule permit.  If rain or high wind prevents completion of any of the treatment flights, the balance of the sites will be scheduled for the next suitable day.

           

Two treatments, separated by seven to 10 days, are required to eradicate the gypsy moth larvae in each infested area.  Therefore, the infested areas will probably be treated again late in the week of May 17 if weather permits.

           

On the day of the treatment, at about 5 a.m., an airplane will begin applying a bacteria commonly found in the soil to the treetops of infested areas. The bacterium shuts down the digestive system of gypsy moth caterpillars so they can't

digest leaves.  The bacterium, called Btk, is short for Bacillus

thuringiensis (var. kurstaki). Btk is not harmful to humans or pets.

 

A small number of people have experienced minor eye or sinus irritation if they are directly exposed. People who live or work near the treatment areas can take common sense precautions, including avoiding direct exposure to themselves or their belongings.  People in treatment areas who are concerned about sensitivity to the treatment may choose to adjust their times outdoors to avoid exposure and stay indoors until one-half to one hour after the plane has completed its last flight over the area.

           

Pet food and water or other food or drink should be covered or kept indoors until one-half hour after the spraying.

 

 

The airplane is a crop duster that flies about 50-feet above treetops to precisely apply the Btk in the treatment areas. The plane will make turns over adjacent areas but will not release any Btk over those areas.

           

For questions about this project may call Indianapolis toll-free 1-877-INFODNR (463-6367) between 8:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday or contact their county extension office.

 


DNR issues quarantine to ban giant African land snail

The giant African land snail is an unwanted visitor to the U.S. Although it has been traded at flea markets and kept as a pet, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has never issued a permit to import the snails. All of the snails in the U.S. are here illegally.

 

Last week a local Wabash County health department worker read that the snails would be available at a local flea market. The snails were confiscated and destroyed. As a reaction to the discovery of the snail in Indiana, the DNR, on April 30 issued a quarantine banning the snails in Indiana.

 

It has also been found in class rooms of schools in Illinois and Wisconsin as part of science projects.

 

The quarantine said, in part, that no person in Indiana may "possess, offer for sale, sell, give away, barter, exchange, or otherwise distribute or release a giant African land snail, in any life stage, in Indiana." Anyone in possession of a giant African land snail should call the DNR, toll free, at 1-877-463-6367 or the USDA's Gary Simon, state plant health director, in Lafayette at 765-446-0267. The snails should never be thrown out, released into the wild or flushed.

 

DNR state entomologist Dr. Robert Waltz, said the giant African land snail is considered to be the most threatening to the environment of any land snail in the world. "The giant African land snail is known to eat at least 500 different types of plants including some grown as crops in Indiana," Waltz said. "The plants the snail eats includes most varieties of beans, peas, cucumbers, and melons."

According to the USDA Web site, in 1966, a Miami, FL, boy smuggled three giant African snails into south Florida upon returning from a trip to Hawaii. His grandmother eventually released the snails into her garden. Seven years later, more than 18,000 snails had been found along with scores of eggs. The Florida state eradication program took 10 years at a cost of $1 million.

 

State health officials warn that individuals can become ill if they ingest snails that have not been completely cooked.  "Giant African land snails can carry the rat lung worm, which can cause individuals who eat raw or undercooked snails to develop meningitis and to suffer from permanent neurological damage," said Dr. Mike Sinkso, medical entomologist for the Indiana State Department of Health.

 

Scientists believe the giant African land snail is originally from East Africa. It is now commonly found throughout the Indo-Pacific Basin, including the Hawaiian islands.

 

Finally, the USDA says each snail contains both female and male reproductive organs. After a single mating session, each snail can produce 100 to 400 eggs. This amazing creature can duplicate reproduction through several cycles without engaging in another mating. In a typical year, every mated adult lays about 1,200 eggs.

 

For more info:  www.aphis.usda.gov/ppq/ep/gas.html

 


Michigan

Bass report available

State fisheries officials announced completion of a report on bass angling that examines several scenarios for changing recreational bass fishing regulations in Michigan. The 53-page review, prepared by DNR Fisheries Division examines the ecological, social and economic aspects of bass angling in Michigan and throughout the Great Lakes Region. It offers an overview of Michigan's bass populations and discusses potential impacts of increasing recreational angling opportunities.

 

The report is available on the DNR Website, www.michigan.gov/dnr , for public review, but fisheries officials said the public comment period does not begin until mid-June, following a review by an external work group committee that includes sport fishing groups and fisheries scientists.

 

"Our constituent groups have been asking us for several years to look at the possibility of increasing recreational fishing opportunities for bass," said DNR Fisheries Specialist Todd Grischke. "In response, we have thoroughly examined the

question. This proposal represents the most current scientific information available and offers a wide range of scenarios for changing bass fishing regulations."

 

Largemouth or smallmouth bass are found in nearly all of Michigan's waterways.

 

"Bass play an important role in the lakes and rivers where they are found, so we are moving carefully as we begin to discuss the proposal with constituent groups and the general public," Grischke said. "The key issue is our ability to manage the risk to our bass fishery associated with any of these scenarios."

 

Fisheries officials noted that part of the challenge with changing bass seasons is identifying regulations that have uniform effects for the broad range of ecosystems bass inhabit, and are working to create effective fishing regulations that are easily understood by anglers, easily enforced by conservation officers, and can be applied to most or all of the bass waters in Michigan.


Game, land and camping changes approved

The Michigan DNR Director approved increased camping fees for state parks, effective with the 2005 camping season, to allow the state parks system to keep pace with rising operating costs. The Legislature in 2003 removed General Fund support from the state parks, creating a user-funded system as part of its effort to address Michigan's budget challenge. The shift represented nearly 18 % of the state Parks and Recreation Bureau's $51 million operating budget. The camping fee increase will range from $1 to $6 per night, depending on the popularity of the park and amenities offered.

 

The Director also approved a statewide, comprehensive boundary review of Michigan's 97 parks, 96 game areas and 3.9 million acres of state forests. Some of the state's project boundaries have not been updated for decades. The comprehensive review was performed to help ensure that Michigan's public property holdings will fulfill the Department's natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation mission on behalf  of Michigan's citizens.  These new project boundaries also reflect population expansion and development which has occurred around State properties in

the last several decades.

 

Project boundary recommendations in the report place a strong emphasis on consolidating existing land holdings, preserving wetlands and other environmentally important areas. Details are available on the DNR web site, www.michigan.gov/dnr . Over the next several years, the DNR will review properties outside the project boundaries to ensure that those properties continue to provide the natural resource, conservation and outdoor recreation values for Michigan residents and visitors.

 

The commission approved 2004 season dates and regulations for elk, and a December pheasant season. The quail hunting season is extended three days to coincide with the Nov. 14 closing date of the regular pheasant season and simplify regulations. Adjusted management units for fall turkey hunting were approved. Details will soon be posted on the DNR web site.

 

The next regular NRC meeting is June 3-4 in Lansing.


New method used to estimate black bear population

he Michigan DNR announced the results of a two-year study examining the use of genetic markers to estimate the number of bears in the northern Lower Peninsula.

 

The DNR historically has used a population model to estimate bear numbers. The new method involves collecting hair and tissue samples from bears harvested during the fall hunting seasons. The samples are compared to hair samples collected by the researchers earlier in the year and are used to estimate the total number of adult bears in that region. Based on analyses of hairs and the fall 2003 harvest in the NLP, the technique produced an estimate of 1,880 adult bears.

The technique has been successful for estimating the size of black bear populations in isolated areas of southern North America. It is based on a commonly-used, capture-mark-recapture technique, where individualized identification markers such as radio-collars or tags are used to mark and resight individuals.

 

Bears in the study were "marked" based on the observation of an individual DNA "fingerprint" obtained from hair deposited on barbed wire fencing at locations in northern Michigan. Individuals were "recaptured" based on observations of the same DNA fingerprint in samples from other hair collections or from bears harvested by hunters in the fall.


Wolf population continues to grow

Michigan DNR officials announced results of the most recent wolf survey, which indicates at least 360 wolves are now roaming Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The wolf population grew approximately 12 percent from the 321 animals counted last year.

 

Wolves dispersing from Canada, Minnesota, and Wisconsin were occasionally present in the UP during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Reestablishment of wolves appears to have begun in 1989 when three animals established a territory in the Western UP. Since 1989, the wolf population has increased every year, except 1997, when a small population decline was noted.

Last winter, biologists spent more than 2,000 hours conducting the wolf survey, which used tracking, aerial observations of packs with radio-collared wolves, and other evidence to determine the number of animals. The DNR regularly monitors about 40 wolves that have been fitted with radio collars to determine their movements and survival.

 

DNR Biologist Dean Beyer said wolves were found in all UP counties except Keweenaw.

 

This is the fifth consecutive year that the wolf population has exceeded 200 animals. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to publish a proposed rule for federal delisting in June.


'04 bear hunt applications due May 15

Michigan wildlife officials reminded bear hunters they must apply by May 15 for a 2004 bear hunting license.

 

The 2004 bear season will include the following hunt periods: Sept. 10-Oct. 21, Sept. 15-Oct. 26, and Sept. 25-Oct. 26 in all Upper Peninsula units except Drummond Island; Sept. 10-16 on Drummond Island; and Sept. 17-23 in the northern Lower Peninsula's Baldwin, Gladwin, and Red Oak bear management units. An additional hunt period for archery only is held Oct. 8-14 in the Red Oak Unit.

 

Hunters may apply at more than 1,700 license dealers and DNR Operations Service Centers or via the Internet at www.michigan.gov/dnr . Applying for a bear hunting license costs $4, and the nonrefundable fee must be paid at the time of application. Online customers may use MasterCard or VISA to charge their purchase and should print out their application receipt. There is no application fee for Comprehensive Lifetime license holders.

 

Copies of the 2004 Michigan Bear Hunting Guide are available

at all DNR offices, license dealers, and on the DNR Web site. Online customers also can access a Frequently Asked Questions database to immediately receive the answer to any questions they may have regarding the preference point drawing system, how to apply as a party, or other important details.

 

Applicants who did not apply online will be mailed a postcard by June 11. Drawing results are posted on the DNR Web site June 7.

 

Successful applicants must go to any license dealer to purchase their bear hunting license and harvest tag. The cost of the license and harvest tag is $14 for residents, $5.60 for seniors, and $150 for nonresidents. There is no license fee for successful Lifetime Comprehensive License Holders.

 

A participation license is required for bear hunters who are not issued a harvest tag but wish to participate in a bear hunt behind dogs. Participation licenses may be purchased at any license agent for the same fee as a hunting license.


Minnesota

Record white bass confirmed by DNR

The Minnesota DNR has confirmed as a new species record a 4 lb, 2.4-oz white bass caught May 4 by Tony Adolfino of Joliet, Ill.

 

The white bass was 18.5" long, with a 15.1" girth. Adolfino was

fishing with a minnow from the Alma Float in Pool 5 of the Mississippi River, south of Wabasha.  A pair of 4 lb white bass, caught in the St. Croix River and  Pool 8 of the Mississippi River, were tied for the previous state record.

 


Spring fisheries activities in the Baudette fisheries management area

The Governor's Fishing Opener to be held here May 14-16

Crews from DNR and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources are working to determine lake sturgeon abundance in Lake of the Woods and Rainy River. This study will help evaluate a regulation changes that were implemented on the Minnesota-Ontario Border Waters  March 1.  Crews are sampling the sturgeon population with gill nets and trap nets. Each sampled fish is tagged with a uniquely numbered tag and released. In addition, anglers are being recruited to catch fish for the project. If an angler is willing, fisheries personnel will tag and release their catch. More than two hundred sturgeon were tagged on a recent weekend with the cooperation of sturgeon anglers. The tagging portion of this project will continue on Lake of the Woods and Rainy River through May 16. A follow up recapturing phase of the project will be conducted this June and July.

 

Anglers are encouraged to report any tagged fish that they capture to the Baudette fisheries office, 210 Main Street East, Baudette, MN  56623, call (218) 634-2522 or send an email to: mike.larson@dnr.state.mn.us . Everyone reporting a tagged fish will receive a letter regarding capture date, length, weight, age and any other capture information.  DNR crews will conduct an extensive spring creel survey to estimate lake sturgeon catch, harvest, and fishing pressure. Anglers can expect to be contacted by fisheries personnel to obtain information regarding their fishing trip and catch.

 

Regulation reminders

New regulations designed to protect the recovering lake sturgeon population will be in effect when the season opened April 24 on the Minnesota-Ontario border. Anglers may harvest one sturgeon per season from 45 to 50 inches, or more than

75 inches through May 7. Catch-and-release fishing is allowed through May 16. Harvest will also be allowed July 1 through Sept. 30, with catch-and-release fishing Oct. 1 through April 23.

 

Anglers who harvest a sturgeon are required to sign and date their license. To minimize harm to sturgeon that are caught and released, anglers are not allowed to use a gaff while fishing on the Rainy River.

 

Anglers are also reminded of new fishing regulations for the Minnesota - North Dakota border. Seasons are continuous on the Red River of the North. The walleye and sauger possession limit is three (either or combined). The catfish possession limit is five with not more than one over 24 inches. The muskellunge possession limit is one with a minimum size of 40 inches. The northern pike possession limit is three. The smallmouth bass and largemouth bass possession limit is three (either or combined).

 

Later this spring, Baudette fisheries staff will be meeting with local people, business owners and interested parties to discuss potential regulation changes for Lake of the Woods and Rainy River walleye and sauger. Meetings will be held in Baudette, Warroad and Roseau. Prior to the walleye opener, public and private access sites will be posted with signs to notify anglers of the proposed changes.

 

The Governor's Fishing Opener is being held in Baudette. Fisheries staff will present a display, with information on special regulations, lake sturgeon recovery efforts, Lake of the Woods fishery, area habitat improvement projects, and MinnAqua events. As part of the festivities, Baudette fisheries staff will host a kids fishing event on Saturday.


Leech Lake walleye outlook

As the walleye opener approaches, anglers wonder what the Leech Lake fishing season will bring. Last year, proved to be another tough year for walleye anglers on Leech Lake. Although we never are positive why fish don't bite the way we want them to, young yellow perch and other baitfish were abundant in 2003, making it two consecutive years of plentiful forage for walleye.

 

This year, anglers will have a good opportunity to catch larger walleye. The average size of walleye sampled by the Minnesota DNR last fall was an impressive 16.7". A large percentage of fish from the strong year classes of 1994, 1995, and 1997 are currently in excess of 20" and more abundant than in a typical year creating a great time to target these larger walleye.

 

Smaller fish-in the 14 to 17" range-are more scarce as the year class of 2000 is weaker than average. For the second consecutive winter, Walker Bay ice anglers report numbers of

smaller fish being caught, most likely from the 2001 year class. These fish are now reaching "keeper" sizes for anglers and hopefully will cooperate this season.

 

According to annual test netting in 2003, walleye were sampled at 5.2 walleye per set which is below the twenty-year median of 7.0 per set. The current population consists of larger fish as noted by the large average size. Although the strength of a given year class does vary, Leech Lake does have consistent walleye reproduction.

 

This is evident in the 14 different year classes sampled in 2003, with all year classes dating back to 1994 present. The oldest fish sampled was a 20.2 inch male walleye that was 20 years old. Larger walleye, fish over 24 inches, are not sampled effectively with DNR assessment nets, however Leech Lake anglers annually catch some trophy-sized fish nearing the 30-inch mark.

 


Fergus Falls fisheries activities

As part of a statewide walleye production program, Minnesota DNR fisheries crews in the Fergus Falls Area are trapping walleye and collecting spawn. When they eggs hatch, the 6-to 8-inch walleye fry will be stocked in approximately 40 lakes and walleye rearing ponds in Otter Tail County. The hatchery and spawn take sites are located on the Dead River near the inlet to Walker Lake and on the Otter Tail River near the inlet to Otter ail Lake in central Otter Tail County.

The hatchery is open to the public and will run for approximately four weeks. A reminder, statewide regs and a complete ABC list of lakes having experimental or special regs may be found in the current DNR Fishing Regs booklet, or on the DNR Web site www.dnr.state.mn.us/regulations/fishing/special.html .  Currently, there are 15 lakes and one stream with special/experimental fishing regulations in Otter Tail County.


DNR staff prepare for fishing season in Park Rapids area

Park Rapids area staff checked fish populations in Moran and Hennepin Lakes, where dissolved oxygen fell to low levels late in the winter. The lakes were opened to liberalized fishing. Results showed ample populations of northern pike, perch and crappies at both lakes, and there were adequate numbers of sunfish in Moran. Largemouth bass may be low in both lakes, and bluegill and walleye may be low in Hennepin. Efforts will be made to check those species by electro-fishing and restocking them if necessary. Test netting will also be conducted at many area ponds to check for effects of winterkill and their suitability for walleye rearing.

 

Sizes of northern pike are being checked at 5th and 6th Crow Wing Lakes, Big Mantrap Lake and Lake George. Those samples will be compared with future samples to evaluate how northern pike populations change with recently implemented regulations.

 

Muskellunge will be sampled at Big Mantrap as part of an ongoing evaluation of that species. Previous samples have shown a steady increase of the size structure of muskies in Mantrap as that population has developed into an excellent fishery.  If time permits, a fish trap may be installed at the outlet of Emma Lake to measure sizes of walleyes moving upstream to spawn. That information has been collected in the past, and can be used as another way to evaluate the protected size regulation on walleye in Big Sand Lake.

 

Later in the spring, crappie and sunfish will be sampled with trap nets at a few lakes to better evaluate sizes, growth and mortality of those populations and whether they could benefit from additional regulation. Largemouth bass will be sampled by night electro-fishing on some of the lakes scheduled for population assessments later in the summer.

 

Park Rapids area staff will again help operate a walleye spawning station on Boy River near Woman Lake to acquire eggs for their stocking and rearing program. Park Rapids staff will also help collect muskellunge eggs from Leech Lake. Fish produced from those eggs will be used to maintain the genetic integrity of muskie populations at lakes throughout the state. Both the walleye and muskie eggs will be incubated at the hatchery located below the Fish Hook River dam in Park Rapids. If people are interested in seeing the hatchery

operations, they can visit weekdays between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

 

Sucker eggs will be collected to produce feed for muskellunge fry. Sucker eggs have been incubated at Park Rapids in the past. This year, they will be sent to Duluth to keep them in water temperatures cool enough to postpone sucker hatching until muskie fry are able to prey on them.

 

Regulation reminders

As another fishing season begins, the Park Rapids area fisheries office would like to remind anglers of special or experimental fishing regulations in the Park Rapids area that differ from statewide regulations, as well as some recent statewide regulation changes.

   ● Crappie:  Minimum size limit 10 inches at Spider Lake.

   ● Walleye:  All walleye 18-26" must be immediately returned to the water at Big Sand Lake. Only one over 26" allowed in possession.

   ● Largemouth bass:  All largemouth bass 12-18" must be immediately returned to the water at Little Mantrap Lake.

 

These three regulations are scheduled to expire in spring, 2005. Public meetings will be held in September to present results of evaluations, and to gather input to help with the decisions whether to continue, rescind or modify those regulations.

   ● Northern pike:  All northern pike 24-36" must be immediately returned to the water at Blueberry Lake (Wadena County), Big Mantrap, and Lake George.

  ● All northern pike less than 40" must be immediately returned to the water at 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, and 10th Crow Wing Lakes.

Statewide limits

   ● Sunfish: possession limit of 20

   ● Crappie: possession limit of 10

   ● Yellow perch: 20 daily and 40 in possession

   ● Lake trout: possession limit two.

 

As a reminder, statewide regulations and a complete alphabetical list of lakes having experimental or special regulations may be found in the current DNR Fishing Regulations booklet, or on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us/regulations/fishing/special.html .

 


DNR holds first youth wild turkey hunts

30 kids participate in pilot projects

The Minnesota DNR held its first youth-only wild turkey hunts, April 17-18. There will be more youth wild turkey hunts in future years according to agency officials. Twenty first-time turkey hunters and their parents went afield before sunrise in  pre-assigned hunting areas throughout the lower Minnesota River Valley.

 

The USFWS partnered with the DNR, in opening portions of the federally managed Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge and the state owned Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area to the youth hunters. The public lands utilized in the hunt, which stretched from Belle Plaine to Savage, are generally closed to spring turkey hunting, but were opened specifically for the special youth hunt.

 

In the north metro, another special youth hunt is taking place utilizing a slightly different format. The Wildlife Science Center, a Forest Lake based research and education organization, opened up its' property in northern Anoka county for a group of first time turkey hunters. Their parents and volunteer mentors will accompany two young hunters per weekend for five consecutive weekends.

          

Hunters were recruited by the Wildlife Science Center. A firearms safety class was held for participants who had not yet received the mandatory Firearms Safety Certification. The NWTF conducted a turkey-hunting clinic at the Forest Lake Gander Mountain. The store also outfitted the participants with camouflage clothing and turkey calls. Double Bull Blinds, a Monticello based manufacturer, donated two blinds for the hunters to use.

The DNR worked closely with Wildlife Science Center staff, the Center's director Peggy Callahan, and firearms safety instructor Dan Porter in organizing the hunt. Volunteers from the NWTF conducted a pre-hunt orientation and safety clinic. They will be accompanying hunters to teach them the skills needed to become successful turkey hunters.

 

Both young hunters on the Wildlife Science Center property successfully bagged birds on the opening weekend. Seven more hunters will be going afield over the next four weekends hoping to maintain that streak.

 

"Actually taking birds is a great experience for the kids, but these hunts are successful regardless if they get to squeeze the trigger or not," Bronson said. "They are learning first hand all of the good things involved with hunting, from being in the woods at first light, to sharing a sandwich in the field with friends and family. Hunting experiences involve thousands of sights, sounds, smells and emotions that you can only understand fully by being there."

 

Youth turkey hunts are the latest addition to a series of initiatives the DNR is undertaking to increase participation in hunting by young people.

 

Nationally, hunter participation rates are declining, particularly among young people, and the DNR has made a strong commitment to preventing that trend from taking hold in Minnesota. According to Bronson, the public should expect more special hunts and regulation changes aimed at getting kids away from the video games and out in the field.

 


DNR offering equipment grants for K-12 archery classes;

National Archery in Schools Program expanding to Minnesota

The Minnesota DNR is providing assistance to Minnesota schools interested in starting or improving physical education based archery classes.  As part of the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP), the DNR is partnering with the archery industry and the conservation community to expand access to school-based archery programs through reduced cost equipment, teacher training and curriculum development.

 

The DNR is making archery equipment packages available to at least 25 schools for greatly reduced costs. A complete package of 11 bows, five dozen arrows, five targets and safety backstop netting costs the DNR about $2,600. Schools or non-profit organizations willing to sponsor schools will be required to provide matching funds of $1,300 for each package. The equipment grants will be allocated on a competitive basis, with a preference given to programs that will reach the greatest number of student archers.

 

The curriculum provides guidelines for a two-week Olympic

style target archery program in which students learn the basics of archery safety, history and techniques. In states where the program has already been implemented, teachers report that attendance has increased and at-risk students have been engaged in class as never before, according to National Archery in the Schools Program coordinator Roy Grimes.

 

"Archery is a life-sport that anyone can participate in," Grimes said. "Students that might not be the most athletic can do archery and be successful, which is important for building self-esteem."

 

Teachers who participate in the Archery in the Schools Program are required to become certified as National Archery Association instructors. The DNR is facilitating training sessions throughout the state that provide comprehensive instruction on how to set up safe and effective introductory archery classes. The 12-hour course should qualify for continuing education credits for most physical education instructors.

 


New York

10 NY Sites Ranked Top 100 Family Campgrounds by ReserveAmerica

Governor George E. Pataki announced that 10 State-operated campgrounds have received national recognition as top favorite family destinations throughout the U.S.  The sites, which are operated by NY State Parks and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), were named on Reserve America's recently-released second annual Top 100 Family Campgrounds list.

 

ReserveAmerica, a reservation service that covers national, state and private recreational facilities throughout the nation, compiles the Top 100 Family Campgrounds list to help campers plan trips and recommends America's greatest “hidden gem” locations.

 

The 10 popular NY State campgrounds are:

  ●  Allegany State Park, Western NY

  ●  Fair Haven Beach State Park, Finger Lakes Region

  ●  Golden Hill State Park, Niagara Region

  ●  Green Lakes State Park, Central NY

  ●  Letchworth State Park, Western NY

  ●  Taconic State Park, Copake Falls, Hudson Valley Region

  ●  Thompson's Lake State Park, Capital District

  ●  Wellesley Island State Park, Thousand Islands Region

  ●  Ausable Point Campground (DEC-operated), Adirondacks

  ●  Moffit Beach Campground (DEC-operated), Adirondacks

 

Since 1995, Pataki has opened 18 new State parks across New York.  In his State of the State address in January, he laid out an ambitious goal to open or expand 20 additional State Parks over the next five years.

           

The ReserveAmerica list was developed by park rangers, park management and campers who wrote testimonials. Nearly 3,000 parks that are part of the ReserveAmerica system were considered and the final 100 campgrounds were chosen based on specific family friendly criteria including location,

hiking trails, family beaches, visitor centers, educational programs, children's events, radio-free zones, and availability of hot showers and laundry facilities.

 

ReserveAmerica operates the state’s camping reservation system which provides online and phone reservations for campsites throughout New York operated by State Parks and the State Department of Environmental Conservation. The 15,678 state-operated campsites and cabins provide accommodations for more than 900,000 people each year.

 

While the most popular time to camp is Memorial Day through Labor Day, many state campgrounds are available in the spring, fall and winter.  Reservations are accepted for campsites and cabins from 2 days - 9 months in advance of the date of the planned arrival by calling toll free 1-800-456-CAMP or online, www.ReserveAmerica.com.

 

New York recently received the 2003-2004 National Gold Medal State Park Award recognizing the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation as the best state park system in the country for excellence in park and recreation administration and outstanding service to patrons.  The agency welcomes more than 60 million visitors each year and oversees 168 state parks and 35 state historic sites. For more information on any of these recreation areas please call (518) 474-0456 or visit the website at http://www.nysparks.state.ny.us.

           

DEC operates 52 campgrounds and six day use areas in the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserves.  In 2003, over 1.6 million visitors to DEC facilities enjoyed the magnificent landscapes, camped in the lush forests and enjoyed the variety of fish and wildlife that have co existed here for centuries in campground facilities that are constitutionally protected as forever wild. For more information on DEC campgrounds, go to http://www.dec-campgrounds.com.


Pennsylvania

Commissioners give final approval on 2004-'05 Bear seasons and bag limits

HARRISBURG -- The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners have given final approval to hunting and trapping seasons and bag limits for 2004-2005, including increased crossbow hunting opportunities; extended antlerless deer hunting in the urbanized area of Wildlife

Management Unit (WMU) 5D; expanded landowner eligibility

for the Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP); more bear hunting opportunities in several WMUs; and an extended youth squirrel hunt. 

 

See articles below for more info.


Board approves expanded use of Crossbows

To offer hunters additional deer hunting opportunities, especially in urbanized areas, the Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to a measure to expand the use of crossbows for hunting in Pennsylvania.

 

Under the new regulation, which takes effect on July 1, crossbows may be used statewide for bear and elk and during any of the firearms deer seasons, including the regular two-week concurrent deer season, the early muzzleloader season and the late flintlock season.  In addition, in Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5C and 5D - the most urbanized areas in the state - crossbows would be legal during any established deer season.

 

Statewide, hunters using crossbows during the early muzzleloader season or late flintlock season would need to have a muzzleloader stamp in addition to their general hunting license and appropriate WMU antlerless deer license.  However, late-season flintlock hunters using a crossbow would be permitted to take an antlered deer or an antlerless deer anywhere in the state with their unused antlered deer tag, just like other late-season flintlock hunters. 

 

In WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D, hunters using a crossbow during the 

archery seasons would need to purchase an archery stamp in addition to their general hunting license and appropriate WMU antlerless deer license.

 

Disabled hunters would still need to obtain a permanent or temporary disabled hunter permit to use a crossbow during the statewide early archery season outside of WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D.

 

Prior to 2001, the crossbow was on the list of prohibited hunting devices, as established by the General Assembly.  At that time, only hunters with permanent disabilities that prevented them from pulling back a bow were allowed to apply for a special permit to use a crossbow in place of a bow during archery seasons.

 

In 2001, the General Assembly enacted a law that not only removed the crossbow from the list of prohibited hunting devices, but it also established a temporary disabled category for hunters to apply for a permit to use a crossbow in place of archery equipment if they suffered a temporary disability that prevents them from pulling back a bow.  Temporary permits are only good for the hunting license year in which they are issued.


Game Commission offers Becoming An Outdoors-Woman Programs

HARRISBURG - As part of its role of promoting the Commonwealth's rich hunting and trapping heritage, the PA Game Commission will be holding several Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) programs this year.

 

"BOW is an international program offering outdoor skills workshops to women 18 years and older," said Lori Richardson, Game Commission Outreach Coordinator.  "Women who attend a BOW event learn skills that help them more fully enjoy and appreciate the outdoors while building self-confidence, competence and awareness.  Participants also learn about the importance of our natural resources and conservation, as well as the role that hunting, trapping and fishing play in managing and protecting those resources."

 

In addition to basic BOW programs, the agency also sponsors "Beyond BOW," which provides topic- or skill-specific events that offer more in-depth or advanced training; and "Mini BOW," which offers half-day or full-day events intended to spark interest in outdoors recreational opportunities.

 

On June 19, the Game Commission and the Southern Clinton County Sportsmen's Association are co-hosting a Mini-BOW Outdoor Skills Sampler at the Association's facility in Loganton.   The event will last from 8 a.m. until 6:30 p.m., at which time participants will be eligible for door prizes.  The deadline to register is June 4, and registration is only $20.

 

All equipment and materials will be provided, along with morning coffee, snacks and lunch.  Participants will be able to take part in up to four sessions from the following: ammunition reloading; archery instruction; fishing instruction; handgun safety, handling and firing; muzzleloader firearms loading, firing and cleaning; outdoor cooking; outdoor photography; rifle marksmanship; shotgun basics; and turkey hunting and calling. Most classes will be held outside (rain or shine), so weather-appropriate clothing and shoes are recommended, as well as note-taking materials and a bottle of water.

On June 26, the Game Commission and Kinsey's Outdoors will co-sponsor a Mini-BOW Workshop at Kinsey's Outdoors in Mt. Joy, Lancaster County.  The event will last from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., at which time participants will receive a discount card to shop Kinsey's Outdoors.  The deadline to register is June 11, and costs only $10.

 

All equipment and materials will be provided, along with morning coffee, snacks, lunch and a few "goodies" to take home.  Kinsey's Outdoors and its pro-staff will present several short seminars and offer hands-on training for a variety of outdoors skills, including: fly-fishing basics; fishing knot-tying; bass fishing information for local waters; archery range shooting; and cleaning and maintaining firearms.  As some classes may be held outside, weather-appropriate clothing and shoes are recommended, as well as note-taking materials and a bottle of water.

 

For registration forms for any BOW programs, go to: www.pgc.state.pa.us . Click on the BOW icon on the right-hand side of the homepage, then select "Upcoming Events," scroll down through the calendar of events and select yours course. Also, you may contact Lori Richardson:  717-705-9350 or pa-bow@state.pa.us  .

 

The Game Commission maintains a comprehensive BOW section on its website that includes: upcoming BOW programs and contact information; details about BOW and the history of the program; a listing of BOW sponsors; testimonials from previous BOW attendees; links to purchase a hunting, furtaking or fishing license; and other hunting and outdoors tips.

 

BOW is aimed at beginners and is designed to be supportive and non-intimidating.  The workshops offer dozens of different classes including: basic firearm and archery; firearm and archery safety; basic fishing; camping skills; boating and canoeing; orienteering; and other interesting outdoors topics.

 

 


Deer seasons remain unchanged for '04-'05

The Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to the 2004-2005 deer seasons that will nearly mirror those of the previous two years.  The only changes that may impact deer hunting are an approved measure to expand hunters' opportunity to use crossbows for deer and an extended antlerless deer season in the state's most urbanized Wildlife Management Unit - WMU 5D, which is comprised of all of Philadelphia, and portions of Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties.

 

"We are adding additional weeks for antlerless deer hunting in WMU 5D to provide hunters more opportunities to take deer so we can continue to work to get the deer herd under control in this highly developed area," said Vern Ross, Game Commission executive director.  "Managing deer in this area presents two major challenges: it is difficult for hunters to gain access to huntable lands; and what little land remains open to hunting continues to be threatened by development and safety zone encroachment.  However, we must continue to utilize all of the available tools to get this area's deer herd under control."

 

Antler restrictions are scheduled to continue for the 2004-2005

seasons.  The deer seasons and bag limits for 2004-2005 are similar to last year's, with the exception of the addition of three weeks of antlerless deer hunting in WMU 5D.  Following is an overview of the approved seasons.

The deadline for hunters to purchase a muzzleloader stamp for 2004-2005 will be Nov. 13.

 

For the highly urbanized WMUs - WMU 2B, 5C and 5D - the Board approved an antlerless allocation of 159,000, which is an increase from last year's allocation of 131,000.  The Board also approved an antlerless deer license allocation for the remaining WMUs of 880,000, which is a modest increase from last year's allocation of 842,000.  Last year, hunters purchased 946,043 antlerless deer licenses of the 973,000 allocated, which resulted in a harvest of 322,620 antlerless deer. 

 

"The last four hunting seasons have been the largest deer harvests in Pennsylvania history, and yet, in three-quarters of our Wildlife Management Units, deer populations are stable or rising," said Dr. Gary Alt, Deer Management Section supervisor.  "This allocation is expected to drop the statewide herd by five percent, which is necessary to reach our goal of balancing the deer herd with its habitat."


Bear season expanded to additional management units

The Board of Commissioners today gave final approval to a three-day, statewide bear season the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (Nov. 22-24) before Thanksgiving that has become traditional with Pennsylvania bruin hunters.  At the same time, the Board expanded areas where bear hunting will run concurrent with the first week of the firearms deer season (Nov. 29-Dec. 4) as a means of addressing the growing problem of human-bear conflicts.

 

In portions of the northeastern and north-central areas of the state, the extended bear season will reopen Monday, Nov. 29 and run through Saturday, Dec. 4, in Wildlife Management Units 3D, 4C and that portion of WMU 4E, east of Rt. 487; that portion of WMU 3B east of Rt. 487 and south of Rt. 87 and that portion of WMU 3C, east of Interstate 1-81.

 

A portion of Lycoming County generally east of Williamsport

also will be open to bear hunting Nov. 29-Dec. 4. Specifically,

that area includes a portion of WMUs 2G and 3B that lie north of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River from the Rt. 405

bridge, west to the Rt. 220 bridge, east of Rt. 220 to Rt. 44 and east of Rt. 44 to Rt. 973, south of Rt. 973 to Rt. 87, west of Rt. 87 to Rt. 864, south of Rt. 864 to Rt. 220 and West or Rt. 220 to Rt. 405 and west of Rt. 405 to the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.

 

Extended modern-day bear hunting first started in 2002 when bear hunters were given the opportunity to fill their tags the first week of the firearms deer season in Carbon, Monroe and Pike counties.  With the advent of Wildlife Management Units, the extended season in 2003 included all of WMU 3D.

 

Hunters tagged 149 bears in the extended hunt in WMU 3D in 2003. In Lycoming County, hunters harvested 202 bears during the regular three-day 2003 season and led all other counties in the number of bears legally harvested.


Board approves Elk and Bobcat seasons

The Board of Game Commissioners gave final approval to hold Pennsylvania's fourth elk season, but voted down a proposal to provide an extra opportunity for hunters to take part in a late-September season.  The regular elk season will be held Nov. 8-13.

 

Both antlered and antlerless elk will be legal game. The Board set the number of elk licenses at 40.  Allocation by elk management units and break-down of antlerless and antlered elk licenses will be determined at a later date.  This allocation will continue the agency's efforts to reduce pressure on harvests of antlered bulls.

 

"Last year, we issued 100 licenses and were able to achieve a harvest of 68 animals, which enabled us to stabilize the herd across the entire elk range," said Calvin DuBrock, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Management director.  "This year, we intended to scale back the number of licenses and focus hunter pressure on the units where we continue to face conflicts with landowners and allow the herd to grow in those units where there is adequate habitat and that are not experiencing conflicts."

 

Interested hunters will be able to make application for the elk season through the mail or by going to the agency's webpage (www.pgc.state.pa.us ) in the next few weeks.  All applications must be accompanied by a nonrefundable $10 application fee.

 

In addition, the Board gave final approval to a regulatory change that would create a 150-yard no-hunt zone for elk from the center-line and on both sides of the road along Route 555 from the intersection of Routes 225 and 555 in Weedville to the intersection of Route 555 and Huston Hill Road.  Also, the Board defined a second no-hunt zone for elk from the Hick's Run no-hunt zone (this being the area immediately adjacent to and north of Route 555) between Hicks's Run Road and Huston Hill Road and within three-tenths of one mile of Route 555 - basically the Hick's Run Cemetery.

 

The Board also gave final approval to permit the agency's Executive Director to establish elk management units and to define what type of orientation program qualified elk license applicants and alternates must take before becoming eligible to receive a license. In previous years, applicants attended a mandatory briefing. To be more customer-friendly, the agency is investigating the possibility of providing the same information in a video or DVD format.

Finally, the Board gave final approval to a measure to ensure that any hunter awarded an elk license for a given year whose military obligation prevents him from hunting the elk season for which the license was issued will be eligible to hunt in the next available elk season.  During the 2003 elk season, one of the 100 hunters awarded an elk license was called to active military duty and sent overseas.  It was decided at that time that the serviceman would be guaranteed an elk license in the next elk season he would be able to hunt, and the Board decided to proactively address any other such instances that may arise in the future.

 

In giving final approval to the state's fifth consecutive bobcat hunting and trapping season, the Board added two Wildlife Management Units in the south-central and southwestern portions of the state - WMUs 2C and 2E.  Sportsmen and sportswomen who are awarded one of a limited number of bobcat hunting and trapping permits may harvest only one bobcat during the license year with harvest permitted in WMUs 2C, 2E, 2F, 2G, 3A, 3B, 3C and 3D. The bobcat hunting season will take place Oct. 16- Feb. 19. The trapping portion of the season will be Oct. 17- Feb. 19.

 

"Southwestern Pennsylvania has had a thriving population of bobcats for many years," said Dr. Matthew Lovallo, Game Commission furbearer biologist.  "This expansion in the size of the territory open to bobcat hunting and trapping will not alter the Game Commission's conservative harvest objective of 175 animals."

 

Successful permit holders will be determined through a public drawing with the number of permits to be determined by the Game Commission Executive Director on or before June 1. Applications will be accepted through the mail and over the Game Commission's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us ).

 

Preference systems were established last year for those who applied for either the elk or bobcat seasons.  The 2004-2005 season is the first time in which the preference systems will be utilized.  Last year's unsuccessful applicants for the bobcat or elk drawings who apply this year will be entered twice.  Preference points are carried forward until an applicant is successfully drawn, and there is no requirement that applications be made in consecutive years in order to maintain preference points.  However, applicants must apply in order to have their preference points used for a given license year.

 


Youth Squirrel Season Expanded

The Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to an expanded youth squirrel season for 2004.  In the past, the youth squirrel season was a two-day event.  Under the package given approval today, the Board established the 2004 youth squirrel season as Oct. 9-15.

 

"The youth season takes into account that most students are off school on Saturday, Oct. 9, as well as on Monday, Oct. 11, the Columbus Day holiday," said Vern Ross, Game Commission executive director.  "The remainder of this youth season - Oct. 12-15, takes place before the change of daylight savings time - which gives the students an opportunity to go home after school and have two hours or so to hunt, which is a long-standing tradition in many rural parts of the state.

 

Under the youth squirrel hunt, participants are not required to purchase a junior hunting license, but they must pass a

Hunter-Trapper Education course.  As with all junior hunting, those participants 12 and 13 years old must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or other family member 18 years or older, and those 14 and 15 years old must be accompanied by a person 18 years or older.

 

Other recent Game Commission initiatives to promote youth hunting opportunities include: a youth spring gobbler season that will be held in 2004 for the first time; a youth pheasant hunt that began in 2002; a youth waterfowl hunt initiated in 1996; special antlerless deer harvesting opportunities initiated in 1998, and expanded in 2000; and youth field days implemented in the early 1990s. Also, as part of the license fee increase approved in 1998, the General Assembly created a junior combination license that packages regular license privileges with archery, flintlock and furtaking opportunities for $9, compared to the regular junior license price of $6.


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