Friday, June 29, 2012

July 9 Begins 2012-13 Doe License Process

HARRISBURG – With general hunting license sales underway, Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe reminded hunters that county treasurers will begin accepting antlerless deer license applications from resident hunters starting Monday, July 9; and from nonresidents beginning Monday, July 30.
For the 2012-13 license year, antlerless deer license fees are the same as they have been since 1999, except for the 70-cent transaction fee attached to the purchase of each license and permit, which is paid directly to Active Outdoors, the Nashville-based company that runs Pennsylvania Automated License System (PALS). This transaction fee means that residents will need to write checks made payable to “County Treasurer” for $6.70, and nonresidents for $26.70.
By state law, antlerless deer licenses will continue to be sold only by county treasurers, so hunters will need to prepare and mail separate applications for antlerless deer licenses. A list of the mailing addresses for the 65 county treasurers that issue antlerless deer licenses is included in the 2012-13 Digest, which is provided to each license buyer.
A listing of antlerless licenses allocated by WMU, as well as the remaining allocation, can be viewed on the Game Commission’s website (, by clicking on “Doe License Update” in the “Quick Clicks” box in the right-hand column of the homepage.
Roe noted that hunters must use the official pink envelopes, which are provided to each license buyer by the issuing agents. For those who order licenses via the Game Commission’s website (, a new digest and two pink envelopes will be included in the package, along with the licenses, which will arrive in seven to 10 business days from the date of their transaction.
“As county treasurers are set up with PALS, hunters will be able to submit an application to any county treasurer,” Roe said. “Additionally, hunters have the option of listing up to three choices, in order of preference, for a specific Wildlife Management Unit antlerless deer license. If an applicant’s first choice of WMU has exhausted its allocation of antlerless deer licenses, the PALS system will move to the second preference – and third, if necessary.
“This process will nearly eliminate the chance that a hunter will not be able to receive at least one antlerless deer license during the processing of regular antlerless deer licenses. However, hunters are not required to list more than one choice of WMU.”
Also, Roe said that the early start to the antlerless deer license application process will help ensure that county treasurers will be able to mail antlerless deer licenses back to hunters prior to the opening of the archery season. The first such season opens with the antlerless archery season in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D on Sept. 15. The opening date of the general statewide archery deer season is Sept. 29.
Under the 2012 timeline, residents will apply for regular antlerless deer licenses on July 9; nonresidents will apply for regular antlerless deer licenses on July 30. After this, residents and nonresidents will apply for the first round of unsold antlerless deer licenses on Aug. 6, and residents and nonresidents will apply for the second round of unsold antlerless deer licenses on Aug. 20.
County treasurers will have to mail regular and first round of unsold antlerless deer licenses no later than Sept. 10, and second round of unsold antlerless deer licenses no later than Sept. 24.
Beginning Aug. 6, for WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D only, there is no limit to the number of unsold antlerless deer license applications an individual can submit until the allocations are exhausted. This must be done by mail only, and there is a limit of three applications per pink envelope.
Beginning Aug. 27, county treasurers will begin accepting applications over-the-counter for WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D, and may immediately issue antlerless deer licenses. Hunters may apply over-the-counter to county treasurers for any other WMU with antlerless license allocations on Oct. 1.
Roe noted that hunters may file harvest reports online for antlered and antlerless deer, as well as fall turkey, spring gobbler, bobcat, fisher and Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) permits through the agency’s website (
Additionally, hunters can call the agency’s toll-free telephone reporting system to file a harvest report. The Interactive Voice Response (IVR) harvest reporting system telephone number is 1-855-PAHUNT1 (1-855-724-8681).
“Online and telephone harvest reporting are examples of the Game Commission doing its part to make it easier for license buyers to report their required harvests and help the agency better manage wildlife,” Roe said. “We have found that harvest reporting rates have been declining for years, and we’re hoping hunters and trappers take advantage of the online and telephone reporting systems to become more active in wildlife management.”
Pre-paid postage report cards still are available in the digest, but the agency is encouraging hunters to report either online or through the telephone system to improve accuracy of data entry, and to save on the cost of postage and data entry.
Elk and bear hunters still will be required to present their harvest to check stations

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Growing And Prominent Presence Of Pennsylvania’s Bald Eagles

Pennsylvania’s bald eagle population keeps growing; its historic prominence is unmatched  
By Joe Kosack 
Wildlife Conservation Education Specialist 
Pennsylvania Game Commission
          HARRISBURG – It’s hard to deny the bald eagle’s importance in American history and particularly fitting to remember its legacy as we prepare to celebrate America’s lasting independence on the Fourth of July, according to officials with the Pennsylvania Game Commission. 

National Pride: The Bald eagle's comeback is a source of national pride.

Today, the bald eagle is thriving in Pennsylvania. Its population in Pennsylvania hasn’t been stronger in more than a century. As recently as 30 years ago, the Commonwealth’s nesting population was three pairs. 

          Before addressing the bald eagle’s latest gains in Pennsylvania, let’s reflect on its past. Two hundred years and about two weeks ago, the United States declared war on England and America plunged into the War of 1812. Over the next two and a half years, more than 29,000 Pennsylvanians fought in this war. The spirit and occasionally the image of the nation’s relatively new symbol – selected only 30 years earlier in 1782 – the bald eagle, accompanied them into battle. It was the bald eagle’s first war as the nation’s symbol. 

          “The bald eagle’s presence in American history and this country’s efforts to protect it are legendary,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “Long recognized as the spirit of American freedom and resolve, this magnificent raptor is a lasting example of the good that can come from environmental reform and modern wildlife conservation. There’s no better story to tell and retell every Fourth of July than the dramatic recovery of the bald eagle in Pennsylvania and America. 

          “The company of eagles in Pennsylvania’s more remote areas – even the fringes of urban areas – creates excitement for countless residents and visitors. I’ve become so accustomed to seeing them now, that I can’t imagine our outdoors without them. Their presence heightens every trip afield and a chance encounter with a passing bald eagle is almost always the highlight of anyone’s day. Eagles simply are that unforgettable!” 

Feeding Time in Milford: The birds share a tasty squirrel breakfast.

          The preliminary number of bald eagle nests in Pennsylvania is 206 in 51 of the state’s 67 counties, a number that is expected to increase as nesting reports are submitted. In 2011, the preliminary report was 203 nests in 50 counties, but the final number ended up being 217.  In 2010, the late-June nest count was 192; but that number increased to 199 by the end of the year. In 2009, the June nest count was at least 170; it increased by four by the end of the year. 

          The breakdown of known active eagle nests in Pennsylvania (with 2011 figures in parentheses) is: Adams, 1 (0); Allegheny, 1(1); Armstrong, 4 (4); Berks, 5 (5); Bradford, 2 (5); Bucks, 4 (5); Butler, 4 (5) ; Cameron, 2 (1); Carbon, 1 (3); Centre, 2 (1); Chester, 5 (5); Clarion, 2 (1); Clearfield, 0 (1); Clinton, 2 (1); Columbia, 1 (1); Crawford, 21 (19); Cumberland, 1 (2); Dauphin, 3 (3); Delaware, 1 (1); Elk, 0 (3); Erie, 9 (8); Fayette, 2 (0); Forest, 1 (1); Franklin, 2 (1); Huntington, 5 (4); Jefferson, 2 (2); Juniata, 3 (4); Lancaster, 19 (18); Lawrence, 2 (2); Luzerne, 3 (4); Lycoming, 3 (6); McKean, 1 (1); Mercer, 11 (7); Mifflin, 2 (3); Monroe, 1 (3); Montgomery, 2 (2); Montour, 2 (1); Northampton, 6 (3); Northumberland, 4 (8); Perry, 2 (2); Philadelphia, 3 (2); Pike, 9 (19); Snyder, 1 (1); Sullivan, 1 (1); Susquehanna, 1(1); Tioga, 5 (6); Venango, 5 (2); Warren, 10 (5); Wayne, 1 (7); Westmoreland, 3 (2); Wyoming, 4 (4); and York, 12 (10). In counties where dramatic change has occurred between 2011 and 2012, a variety of factors, ranging from leaf-out and weather to loss of nest watchers and eagle mortality, can influence these preliminary numbers. 

          “It’s hard to find adjectives to adequately describe the recovery of the state’s bald eagle population,” said Patti Barber, Game Commission Wildlife Diversity Division biologist. “Their resiliency to hang on to the nesting territory they’ve established and their tenacity to expand into the peripheral areas of existing range has really surprised us. 

          “That’s not to say that we didn’t expect them to expand into unoccupied areas. Rather, we hoped the populations would grow in pairs or expand across the state this quickly, but we thought it would be a somewhat slower or gradual expansion. Eagles have been expanding their range in this state annually at a considerable pace.”  

          The continuing increase of bald eagle nests throughout the state has been challenging for the Game Commission to keep up with in recent years. The nests are usually in out-of-the-way locations that often can be accessed only by traversing tough terrain or with a boat. As a result, monitoring and protecting nests can be an issue. It’s one in which the Game Commission counts on others to help it. 

Learning to Fly: It takes weeks of wing strengthening, but eaglets are usually ready to fly in July.
“The truth is it is difficult to make a ‘hard and fast’ rule about eagle safe distances in which it is safe to approach eagle nests without disturbing them, which is illegal under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act,” Barber said. “The Act doesn’t list a distance. Some pairs are tolerant of human activity, while others are sensitive.  Their reaction often depends on the activity and approach of the individual, the nesting cycle stage, and if the eagles are used to seeing people. 

          “Where there is regular public access and established viewing areas, some pairs can be very tolerant if visitors are predictable and nonthreatening.  But when someone sneaks to the base of a nest tree, most eagles become alarmed.” 

          To ensure calm, the Game Commission posts signage around nest sites likely to be disturbed by people. Disregarding these signs is a violation of state and federal laws.  
          “Anyone watching a nest with or without signage should behave in the best interest of the nesting pair and its eggs or eaglets,” Barber said. “Failure to keep your distance could cause eagles to abandon their eggs or young, or force young birds to jump from the safety of the nest with no way to return. For the sake of eagles, use you binoculars or a spotting scope. They are after all, still on the comeback trail from being an endangered species.”  

          For more information, check out the Game Commission’s “Bald Eagle Watching in Pennsylvania,” which can be accessed from the agency’s homepage (  On this page, you will find “Bald Eagle Nest Etiquette” tips, as well as information on where-to-go to see bald eagles in every region of the state, helpful tips on how to distinguish bald eagles from other flying birds, historical background and nesting behavior observations.  

          People who find bald eagle nests – among the largest of all birds – are asked to report their findings to the Game Commission. The easiest way to contact the agency is through its public comments email address: Use the words “Eagle Nest Information” in the subject field. 

          The Game Commission currently classifies the bald eagle as a threatened species in Pennsylvania. They were removed from the federal endangered species list by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2007, because delisting goals had been achieved. To view the agency’s bald eagle management plan, go to the agency’s website (, click on “Wildlife” in the menu bar under the banner and then choose “Bald Eagle Management Plan” in the “Wild Birds and Birding” section. 

          In 1983, the Game Commission began a seven-year bald eagle restoration program in which the agency sent employees to Saskatchewan to obtain eaglets from wilderness nests. The Richard King Mellon Foundation of Pittsburgh and the federal Endangered Species Fund provided financial assistance for this effort. In all, 88 bald eaglets from Canada were released from sites at Dauphin County’s Haldeman Island and Pike County’s Shohola Falls. The resurgence of eagles in Pennsylvania is directly related to this program, which also was carried out in other states in the Northeast. 

          A new six-inch Bald Eagle Restoration Patch commemorating Pennsylvania’s 200th bald eagle nest is available for $18.87. Proceeds from the patch, featuring two bald eagles building a nest, will benefit wildlife conservation in Pennsylvania. Visit the Outdoors Shop or nearest PGC office for obtain one. Pennsylvanians must pay sales tax. Mail and web orders will be charged a shipping and handing fee.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Best Fish Populations On The Three Rivers Identified

By Bob Frye Pittsburgh Tribune Review

When the world’s top bass fishing pros descended on Pittsburgh for the Bassmaster Classic and Forrest Wood Cup, they spent a lot of time trying to figure out where the best fishing was located. Now, that information is at hand.

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission biologists have, for the past 25 years, been sampling fish populations in the tailwaters below the various locks and dams on Pittsburgh’s three rivers. There’s been a special emphasis on the “big three:” smallmouth bass, walleye and sauger. This year, the commission took the data it collected over the past year and put together a list of hot spots.

If you want to target smallmouth bass, for example, three rivers biologist Bob Ventorini recommends the areas below Dashields dam on the Ohio River, the Grays Landing dam on the Monongahela and lock 2 near Highland Park on the Allegheny. Those sites had the highest abundance of bass on each river.

Of those, Grays Landing looks really good, he said in a report of his findings.
“The catch rate of legal (12 inches or larger) smallmouth bass at Grays Landing was remarkable, one of the highest catch rates on record for legal-sized smallmouth bass on the Three Rivers,” Ventorini wrote.

If you want to target walleyes, he recommends the areas below the Dashields and Emsworth dams on the Ohio. It was at Emsworth where biologists handled the biggest walleye caught in their surveys, a 31-inch, 10-pound, 5-ounce bruiser. That area also gave up about twice as many legal walleyes per hour as is called for in a quality fishery, according to the commission’s walleye management plan.

For sauger, all of the rivers are equally good, Ventorini wrote, though the Monongahela has been the most productive in the entire state over the past 25 years. There are other species besides the big three swimming in Pittsburgh’s rivers, of course, and biologists collect some — freshwater drum, rock bass and white bass — in abundance. For that reason, and because they can provide lots of recreation, Ventorini also identified hot spots for those.

The Emsworth pool on the Ohio and Elizabeth pool on the Monongahela are loaded with freshwater drum, he said. He recommended anglers use crayfish to catch them. The Elizabeth pool is a good place to target rock bass, he added, and the Dashields pool is good for white bass.

Next year, biologists plan to sample some new sites — the Montgomery lock on the Ohio, the Charleroi lock on the Monongahela and the Natrona lock on the Allegheny.
Will those reveal some new hot spots? It will be interesting to see.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Pennsylvania Black Bear Looks To Be Largest Ever Taken By A Hunter

By Bob Frye, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

If you ever learn one thing about Pennsylvania black bears, it should be this: They are whompin’ big.
The heaviest taken by a hunter last year weighed 746 pounds, with eight of the top 10 weighing at least 706. A year earlier, a hunter shot an 879-pounder, one of six that’s topped 800 over the years.
Those are huge animals.
When it comes to scoring black bears, though, it’s not pounds but skull dimensions that count. Skulls are to bear trophies what antlers are to deer.
Pennsylvania bears shine there, too. Three of 10 largest black bears taken anywhere in the world, seven of the top 20 and nine of the top 30 came from Pennsylvania, according to the Boone and Crockett Club, the official keeper of big game records taken with a firearm.
A bear shot here last fall will beat them all.
Robert Christian of East Stroudsburg was hunting in Monroe County during the extended bear season when he shot a 733-pounder. Its skull measured 239⁄16 inches.
If that holds up as expected, it will rank as the largest black bear ever killed by a hunter anywhere in the world.
There’s only ever been one larger black bear recorded. Scoring 235⁄8 inches, it’s considered a “pick-up” animal because it was found dead by hikers in summer of 1975 rather than taken by hunters.
“Pick-ups are included, in order to enhance the scientific value of the records and complete the standard which sportsmen can judge their best trophies,” reads Boone and Crockett’s 12th edition of the book “Records of North American Big Game.”
Pennsylvania’s biggest bear skull also belonged to a pick-up found in Lycoming County in 1987. It scored 237⁄16 inches. The biggest hunter-killed bear, by comparison, was taken by Andrew Seman Jr. of Dunbar in Fayette County in 2005 and scored 233⁄16.
Christian’s kill will top both and stand alone among hunter-killed bears anywhere.
Interestingly, it was Christian’s first bear and only the second he’d ever seen, according to a quote he gave to Outdoor Life magazine. He was actually hunting deer when he spotted it following a white-tailed doe that was bleeding from what appeared to be a run-in with a vehicle.
“I stood there staring at this thing. I just couldn’t believe I’d shot a bear. It was unreal. I was super excited,” Christian said in Outdoor Life. “Just couldn’t believe it.”
Believe it. His bear came from right here in Pennsylvania, and the Keystone State grows them big. World-record big.

Didymo Algae Is Poised To Foul Southwest Pennsylvania's Trout Waters

By John Hayes / PittsburghPost-Gazette
OHIOPYLE, Pa. -- We were warned. For years biologists at universities, wildlife organizations and state agencies cautioned against the spread of "rock snot," the mucous-textured invasive algae that has disrupted watersheds throughout the American Northeast and Northwest.

The Youghiogheny River falls at Ohiopyle State Park,
Fayette County, is the point of impact where a dense,
gooey invasive algae has entered Western Pennsylvania.
In May an aquatic biologist with the Delaware River Basin Commission, on a family vacation to Ohiopyle, accidentally discovered didymo on rocks just below the historic falls on the Youghiogheny River in Fayette County. This month Philadelphia's Drexel University confirmed the first established didymo bloom in Western Pennsylvania.

"There was plenty of didymo on the rocks, so I had no trouble finding material to collect, and my sample was filled with nice, healthy, living didymo," wrote biologist Erik L. Silldorff, in his report to Drexel. "In terms of a risk of spread, I would say the Youghiogheny is now a potential launching pad, especially with the combined traffic of whitewater enthusiasts and trout anglers."

Didymo's regional arrival on the Youghiogheny was no surprise to some, but it is ironic. In 2008 the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources designated the 132-mile waterway River of the Year.

Didymosphenia geminata algae is not harmful to humans. It is native to cold, fast-flowing rivers and streams with rocky bottoms -- typically trout waters -- in Northern Europe and Canada. In climates farther south, didymo grows out of control, spreading rapidly in a slippery brown-gray mat with long, grayish-white strands.

The algae can grow into dense blooms that fill the cavities between rocks, blocking sunlight and disrupting ecological processes resulting in a decline in plant and animal life. Macro-invertebrates, the primary food for trout, are generally affected first. As the algae carpets the waterway, the biomass is altered, impacting bait fish and game fish. The algae slips off rocks and permeates the water, making a gooey, unsatisfying mess for recreational anglers and boaters.

Didymo can grow from a single invisible cell. It spreads easily, carried on equipment used by boaters, anglers and industrial vehicles, as well on the legs of migrating waterfowl. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Invasive Species Information Center ( reports that by 2004 didymo had spread to rivers of the Western United States. It was discovered east of the Mississippi River in Tennessee in 2005.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources confirmed didymo at Baltimore County's Gunpowder Falls in 2008, in Allegany County's lower Savage River in 2009 (about 65 miles from Ohiopyle), and on Frederick County's Big Hunting Creek weeks ago.

"The ecological impacts of didymo are still uncertain in Maryland waters," said DNR's Ron Klauda, a member of the agency's invasive species team, in a written statement, "but heavy blooms definitely cause problems for trout anglers."

In Pennsylvania during the last two months, Fish and Boat officials documented didymo blooms in the Delaware River as far south as Bucks County, and in Dyberry Creek in Wayne County, as well as in the Youghiogheny River.

The Ohiopyle bloom is located in the pool below the falls, a spot that is difficult for wading anglers to access but a popular launching point for kayakers."That area gets very little fishing pressure," said Dale Kotowski, a fly-fishing guide for Wilderness Voyageurs, an Ohiopyle outfitter since 1964. "I can't imagine the thousands of paddlers who come to that area, so it doesn't surprise me that's where didymo showed up first." Experts predict serious consequences for Western Pennsylvania trout anglers.

"It is almost impossible to predict the scope and extent of the spread of species invasions like this one," said John Arway, executive director of the state Fish and Boat Commission. "Humans aren't the only vectors [of its expansion] and the reality is that it will spread, but hopefully we can slow it down and it won't dominate our rivers."

It's too soon to tell how the presence of didymo will impact Youghiogheny trout stocking and native trout reproduction in the region. The waters downstream from Ohiopyle are clearly in jeopardy. Considering didymo's documented propensity to spread quickly, all of the popular trout waters of the Laurel Highlands are also at risk, including Meadow Run, the Casselman River and Laurel Hill, Dunbar, Dunlap, Jones Mill, Indian and Blue Hole creeks.

"I've fished on didymo from the White River in Arkansas to the Gunpowder in the Baltimore area," said Kotowski. "The Savage is absolutely covered with it -- rock snot from shore to shore. Every rock below the dam is covered, which makes walking virtually impossible. It's hard to fish anything subsurface -- the line, fly, everything picks up hunks of this stuff. On the Savage, that's happened in the span of a couple of years."

Dry fly fishing on stretches of the Savage was more productive, Kotowski said. The hatches had yet to be impacted by the constrictive algae. The falls area at Ohiopyle fished fine in late April, he said, and to date didymo has not been detected upstream on the 10-mile Middle Yough from Confluence to Ohiopyle.

While the spread of didymo probably can't be stopped, boaters and anglers may be able to slow its rate of expansion.

Maryland bans felt wading soles, which are believed to easily transport didymo cells among watersheds. The state's DNR places wader washing stations at popular fishing locations. Anglers are urged to clean mud and other debris from their boots, then step into pails of saltwater and brush toe to knee for about 60 seconds.

Felt soles remain legal in Pennsylvania. Fish and Boat officials have said the agency is reluctant to ban a product proven to improve water safety while more troubling modes of didymo transportation -- boats and industrial machinery -- remain unregulated from an invasive species perspective. The state does not provide wader washing stations.

For now, education remains the main tool in combating the spread of didymo. "We just need to be cautious as users of the river," said Arway, "and make sure we clean our gear so that we aren't responsible for spreading it around the watershed."

In a written statement, John Norbeck, DCNR director of state parks, said the discovery of didymo at Ohioppyle will not immediately impact park visitors. "The park encourages all boaters, fishermen and visitors to be vigilant and avoid spreading didymo into other rivers and streams by properly washing all gear, equipment and watercraft," he said.

The Mountain Watershed Association, a regional nonprofit conservation group, recommends disinfecting all fishing and boating gear used throughout the region in a solution of 10 percent household bleach and 90 percent water, or a strong salt solution, for at least 10 minutes. Extra care should be taken to soak porous materials such as nets, ropes, cloth items, water shoes and felt-soled waders and wading shoes.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

State Agencies Issue Alert to Contain Invasive Species Rock Snot, in Youghiogheny

DidymoHarrisburg, PA – With the recent discovery that the invasive aquatic alga known as didymo, or “rock snot,” has been confirmed in the Youghiogheny River, Fayette County, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources are reminding anglers and boaters that cleaning their gear is the easiest, most effective means of preventing the alga from spreading to other waters.
During the past two months, state officials have documented didymo blooms in the Youghiogheny River at Ohiopyle State Park, in the Delaware River as far south as Bucks County, and in Dyberry Creek in Wayne County.

“We may not be able to eliminate didymo from an infected waterway, but we can do our best to slow its spread and to prevent it from spreading to other waters,” said Bob Morgan, the PFBC’s biologist who studies aquatic invasive species (AIS). “Didymo cells can easily be carried downstream and can be picked up by any items or equipment contacting the infected water, including fishing tackle, waders, recreational equipment, and boats and trailers. It takes only one live didymo cell to start a new colony of the alga. We urge anglers and boaters to ‘Clean Your Gear!’ before leaving a water body and entering another one.”

“The Youghiogheny River at Ohiopyle State Park provides some of the best white- water boating and water based recreation in the Eastern United States,” said Bureau of State Parks Director John Norbeck. “The discovery of didymo has no immediate impact to the visitor experience on or along the ‘Yough.’ Didymo is not considered a significant risk to human health.”

Norbeck said the park is working with the Fish and Boat Commission and Department of Environmental Protection to monitor and survey the Youghiogheny River.

“The park encourages all boaters, fishermen and visitors to be vigilant and avoid spreading didymo into other rivers and streams by properly washing all gear, equipment and watercraft used in the ‘Yough,’” Norbeck said. “The Lower and Middle ‘Yough’ are open for all recreational uses including white-water boating and fishing.”

The PFBC recommends that anglers allow exposed equipment to completely dry before entering new waters. After equipment is dry to the touch, allow to dry another 48 hours, the commission suggests. Thick and dense material -- life jackets and felt-soled wading gear -- will hold moisture longer, take longer to dry, and can be more difficult to clean. Soaking equipment in hot water containing dishwashing detergent (2 cups detergent/2.5 gallons of water) for 20 minutes or more also will kill didymo and some other AIS.

Cleaning boats and equipment with hot water (maintained at 140 F) by pressure washing or soaking is another effective method. If hot water is not available, a commercial hot-water car wash also makes a good location to wash boats, motors and trailers. At the other end of the temperature range, freezing items solid for at least 24 hours is effective. If cleaning, drying or freezing is not practical, please restrict the equipment’s use to a single waterway. For more details on how to stop the spread of didymo, visit For more information on how to clean your gear, visit

The PFBC and DCNR are coordinating to identify appropriate next steps, including further sampling of waterways to determine if there are additional areas with didymo. Didymo is not a public health hazard, but it can cause ecological damage by smothering other organisms which also live on the riverbed and support the food web for the resident fish community. It’s been called “rock snot” because of its appearance but when squeezed “‘dry” the alga, which is generally tan to beige in color, actually has the feel of moist cotton or wool. Its scientific name is Didymosphenia geminata.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

New Pa. Law May Give The Fish & Boat Commission More Financial Control

By John Hayes / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In April, John Arway was crossing his fingers. The executive director of the state Fish and Boat Commission was waiting to see if a 20 percent increase in fishing license sales (compared to figures from the same period in 2011) was a real reflection of licenses sold or a statistical anomaly caused by anglers buying licenses early to fish Early Season Trout-Stocked Waters during the warm weeks of late winter.

With bass season opening June 16, Pennsylvania fishing license

sales are up, continuing a trend that started in the spring.

Above, Fish and Boat Commission executive director John Arway

with a nice largemouth
A 20 percent increase in license sales would add more than $3 million to the agency's coffers, and a new law passed last week could help the agency to further boost license sales.

Sales reports have been consistently good since April. Through June 4, anglers purchased 683,031 licenses, or 67,389 more than at the same time last year. A few days later, Arway said sales and fees were up 16 percent.

Ca-ching! That's about $3.3 million in revenue increases for a small state agency funded almost entirely by the anglers who use its services. "That's the good news," said Arway, who grew up in North Huntingdon and Cranberry. "The bad news is expenses are up and almost all other revenues are down."

Last year, Arway spent about $52 million of the agency's $60 million annual budget, holding the rest in reserve for a rainy day. About 80 percent of the budget is spent on personnel.
About 67 percent of Fish and Boat's revenue is raised through license and permit fees. No money for fisheries management is routed from the state's general fund.

Additional funding comes from a federal excise tax on fishing-related equipment and motor fuel sales (see Scott Shalaway's "Wildlife" column). Arway said the state's Dingell-Johnson Act funding is down $1.3 million compared to last year, and increased apportionment due to 2012's increased license sales won't be seen until 2013.

Fish and Boat makes money from leases on timber and mineral rights, including Marcellus Shale gas, on agency-owned properties. But Arway said it's a proverbial drop in the bucket.
"We don't have as much property as the Game Commission," he said. "We have 44,000 acres, mostly boat launches and properties around lakes. I think we've had one sale of timber. We're making efforts to market shale gas on some of our properties, but it's not anywhere near the extraction phase. We have not withdrawn any gas. There have been no royalty payments yet."

Arway said the agency can't rely on income from resource leases to meet its wildlife management expenses. "It was estimated that if we owned all the mineral rights on our properties -- and we're not sure if we own them -- we'd bring in over $50 million in 20 years," he said. "But that's not nearly enough to meet our obligations. We have a $120 million need just to fix our high-hazard dams that have been closed."

The 16 Fish and Boat-managed dams closed by the state Department of Environmental Protection include seven in Western Pennsylvania. A state law passed this year awards $1 million to each of the Pennsylvania's wildlife management agencies to pay for reviewing Marcellus Shale environmental impact permits.

The PFBC reviewed about 5,000 well permit requests last year. Arway said that money is expected to arrive at the agency in September. "That's fine, but our costs go up every day," he said. "I'm cautiously optimistic."

Financial relief could be in sight. Last week the state House of Representatives passed HB 1049, "a monumental piece of legislation," in Arway's words, that would allow the state's wildlife agencies more leeway in licensing.

If approved by Gov. Tom Corbett, Fish and Boat would be permitted to experiment with multi-year fishing license configurations, providing the cost is not higher for licenses sold in single-year units.

"One out of four anglers buys a fishing license once every five years," said Arway. "As a result of the legislation that passed [June 6], the legislature allows us to try multi-year licenses, such as a three-year license or a five-year license." Arway said more than 25 percent of the state Department of Transportation's licenses are sold in multi-year units.
Fish and Boat currently gives boaters the option of buying two-year registrations. Few American states give that level of flexibility to their wildlife managers.

"We're [eager] for the governor to sign it. Then we need to evaluate the pricing and how that would work," said Arway. "It really gives us the opportunity to manage our business on our own, more so than we have done in the past."

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Record Lake Trout Caught In Lake Erie

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) has certified a lake trout caught by Todd Young of Nazareth, Pa., as the new state record for that species.

Record lake troutThe fish caught by Young on May 6, while fishing Lake Erie aboard the charter boat Eyecon II, weighed 29-pounds, 4-ounces. Young’s catch exceeds the previous record by 1 pound, 7 ounces. The prior record was 27-pounds, 13-ounces and was caught in 1996 by Tom Illar Jr. of Apollo, Pa., while fishing in Lake Erie.
A high-resolution picture of the catch is available at: under the Species heading "Trout, Lake."

The trip aboard the Eyecon II was as a graduation present from Young’s dad and fishing buddies. He recently graduated from Clarion University.  The fish took a Northern King spoon, trolled approximately three miles offshore from Harbor Creek.
Additional study of the fish proved that it has an impressive pedigree. Published photographs of the fish gave biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Allegheny National Fish Hatchery (ANFH) a clue that the fish may have been raised and stocked by the hatchery several years ago. Prior to stocking, wire tags are inserted into the snout of each fingerling and the adipose fin is removed. Photographs of Young’s fish published in several newspapers clearly showed that the adipose fin was missing. PFBC biologists found a wire tag during additional examination of the fish, confirming that the fish was indeed spawned and raised at ANFH.

Record lake troutLake trout are raised and stocked by the ANFH as part of the lake trout restoration program,  a partnership of 16 state, provincial and federal agencies working together to restore the environmental health and productivity of the Great Lakes. The current New York state record lake trout, caught in 2003, was also stocked as a fingerling as part of this effort.

The Fish and Boat Commission certifies state recordsbased on total body weight.  Potential record fish must exceed the established mark for that category by at least 2 ounces, as weighed on a certified scale. To be considered for state record certification, a fish must be caught using legal means, in season, from Pennsylvania waters open to the public, and without charge or fee. Fish taken from farm ponds, fee-fishing lakes, ponds or streams or in waters restricted to use by club members or their guests do not qualify. Staff from the PFBC must examine the fish.

Complete rules and application are available on the Commission’s website.  The PFBC is the only entity that can certify an official state record fish in the Commonwealth.