Sunday, March 31, 2013

Women In The Outdoors Event Coming To Bull Creek June 1st!


Women ages 14 and over are discovering a world all of their own; the National Wild Turkey Federation's Women in the Outdoors program was created just for them. Today millions of women enjoy outdoor activities such as camping, fishing, shooting, hiking, and more. By becoming a member of Women in the Outdoors, you'll join a network of women who share the same hobbies and interests. 

You'll learn new skills, tune up existing ones, and make memories that last a lifetime in a relaxed, non-competitive environment. Spread the word to your mom, sister, friend or co-worker. Bring them all to the Allegheny Valley Chapter event for a fun and exciting day of learning and fellowship.

NEW THIS YEAR .... Ages 14-18 only $15, this includes a Jake Membership. Ages 14-17 must be accompanied with an adult.

Pre-registration is required.

What Will Be Provided:
* Choice of 4 expertly instructed classes
* Continental breakfast, lunch, snacks and beverages
* Equipment & materials needed for classes
* A I-year $35 membership in the NWTF
* I-year subscription to Turkey Country magazine and Turkey Talk

If you are unable to attend our event, please visit WWW.WOMENINTHEOUTDOORS.ORG to find other events in the state of PA throughout the year! 

CANCELLATION POLICY: The cancellation deadline is May 27, 2013. If you cancel after the deadline, you will be responsible for the full program fee. You may send a substitute if you cannot attend.

Classes To Choose From:

ARCHERY: Learn about a growing sport that can be used for
recreation, competitive shooting, or bow hunting. Experience
hitting the target!
BIRD WATCHING: Grab your binoculars and your field guide
and join us as we visit the nearby fields and forests to find and
identify our feathered friends. Whether you are a beginner or
have had some practice, we will be sharing birding tips and
interesting facts during our hunt.
OUTDOOR COOKING: This class introduces the basic skills
required to cook over a campfire. Everything tastes great when you are hungry after hiking, playing, or exploring. It is a great way to cook and recipes can also be used at home on the grill.
CANDLE MAKING: Make your own candle to take home. You
will learn how to make a candle using a quart jar. You will be
able to choose from four wonderful scents. There will be an
extra $10.00 charge payable to the instructor.
HANDGUNS: The instructor will provide a broad spectrum of
information about the operations and fundamentals of shooting
RIFLE MARKSMANSHIP: Learn to shoot .22 rim fire rifles and the fundamentals of marksmanship skills. Come join us for fun and action on the firing range!
SURVIVAL SKILLS: Introduction to basic survival needs while
learning about dangerous elements, shelter and fire building,
and essentials for survival kit. Hands on participation with small group activities and games will reinforce survival skills.
GOURDS 101: Bird houses, baskets and spoons are some of the
objects you can make in less than one hour with gourds from
your garden. This class will include your design and completion of a gourd project. No extra charge. Bring your
painting/staining clothes and have some fun!
SHOTGUNNING/TRAP SHOOT: You will become familiar with different types of shotguns, ammunition, proper gun fit, and gun cleaning. Time will be spent at the range where you will shoot clay birds.
CAR MAINTENANCE 101: learn basic vehicle maintenance, what to do for roadside emergencies, scheduled maintenance and
why it is important, proper repairs and speaking the same
language as your mechanic.
WOMEN'S SELF DEFENSE: Brian Sackett from C. S. Kim will
show you how to develop a personal safety strategy so you can
be proactive rather than reactive when handling situations.

Mail completed registration form with payment to:

Lori Lojak
245 Dellenbaugh Rd,
Tarentum, PA 15084
Would like more information? 
Please contact Lori Lojak at 724-224-4182 or email:

Click on the forms below to enlarge and print:

A Busy Time For Sporting Issues

     By Tribune-Review

A study into merging the Game and Fish and Boat Commissions is getting another look.

And a number of bills that would impact sportsmen are making their way through the legislature at varying speeds. Not all will become law. “It's a big legislature,” as one insider said recently. It takes a lot of votes to get anything approved. But there's sure a lot of debate going on.

The merger proposal, House Resolution 129, recently moved to the House where it awaits the vote needed to get the study rolling. The legislature studied — and declined to act on — a complete merger of the two agencies twice previously. State Rep. Martin Causer of Potter County, who's behind the latest version, is hoping to have it done before year's end, even though it's going to cost taxpayers as much as $100,000.

Sportsmen have come out against a merger as well as another idea.

Sen. Tim Solbay of Washington County and Rep. Harry Readshaw of Allegheny County have pitched matching bills that would eliminate antler restrictions for hunters 65 and older. Instead, they would be allowed to shoot any buck with a spike at least 3 inches long.
That's drawn the ire of some sportsmen for three reasons:
• A lot of people — two-thirds of hunters, according to a survey — like antler restrictions.
• They fear allowing seniors, who represent close to 30 percent of all deer hunters, to shoot virtually any buck will undo the progress toward growing bigger bucks overall.
• They dislike the idea of lawmakers managing wildlife in place of the Game Commission.
Sportsmen are being asked to support another piece of legislation.

When Pennsylvania became the first state to adopt a mentored youth hunting program, lawmakers labeled it a “youth” program and limited it to children. The states that acted afterward did not. That's put Pennsylvania behind the times.

Recently, though, the Senate approved Senate Bill 623, which would create an adult mentored hunting program. It would allow one licensed hunter to take out another adult, without a license, on a trial basis.

The hope is that the second adult will enjoy the sport and become a member of the license-buying fraternity.

The Game Commission supports the idea, with thoughts of allowing hunters to pursue small game only. The National Rifle Association supports it, too, and has been lobbying for its passage.

There is a lot more being talked about, such as the bills that would reserve one elk hunting license each year for a person living within the elk range and allow licensed people to track wounded deer and bears with leashed dogs.

Clearly, hunters and anglers need to train their eyes on Harrisburg and pay attention to what's going on.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Man Accused Of Bagging Buck From Walmart Parking Lot Near Indiana, PA

by SAM KUSIC, Indiana Gazette

At the Resort Plaza Walmart, people can save a dollar. And, apparently, waste a buck as well.
By shooting it with a handgun, that is.
Which is why Arcangelo Bianco Jr., 40, finds himself in trouble with the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
According to the commission, Bianco fired several rounds at a hapless white-tailed deer from within the Burrell Township store’s parking lot and bagged the animal on the other side of Old William Penn Highway (Old Route 22) one afternoon last November.
The most serious of the charges he faces is a misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment. He also was slapped with five summary offenses, all hunting law violations, including hunting without a license, shooting on or across highways and unlawful killing or taking of big game.
“Obviously, we can’t have someone running through a Walmart parking lot shooting at a deer,” said Jack Lucas, the wildlife conservation officer who investigated the incident.
But the one thing Bianco does not stand accused of is hunting out of season — the incident reportedly took place on Nov. 26, the first day of antlered deer season with regular firearms.
On that day, Bianco had driven to the Burrell Township shopping plaza to do some banking, Lucas said.
It was around 2:10 p.m. that Bianco spotted the buck running through the parking lot from the cab of his pickup truck, Lucas said.
And it apparently was some buck. Ten points, if memory serves, Lucas said.
The deer ran around a corner of the store, and Bianco hopped out of the truck, gun in hand, and “began firing multiple rounds at the deer,” Lucas wrote in charging documents.
“The defendant pursued the deer through the parking lot and across Old William Penn Highway, where he killed the deer. The defendant then loaded the deer into his vehicle and took it to a meat processor for butchering,” he said.
Citing the active court case, Lucas declined to give details beyond those provided in the criminal complaint, including the number of rounds Bianco is accused of squeezing off.
But he said evidence includes surveillance footage and a deer he seized from the processor.
“It was the nicest buck I’ve seen taken in Indiana County in a couple of years,” Lucas said.
Bianco is being represented by Jason N. Huska, of Latrobe. Huska declined comment this morning.
A preliminary hearing before District Judge Jennifer Rega has been scheduled for May 1

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pennsylvania Game Commission Releases 2012-13 Deer Harvest Estimates

HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Game Commission today reported that, in the state’s 2012-13 seasons, hunters harvested an estimated 343,110 deer, which is an increase of about two percent from the previous seasons’ harvest of 336,200.

Hunters took 133,860 antlered deer in the 2012-13 seasons, an increase of about five percent from the previous license year’s harvest of 127,540. Also, hunters harvested 209,250 antlerless deer in 2012-13, which is a slight increase over the 208,660 antlerless deer taken in 2011-12.

“This year’s antlered deer harvest is slightly above the average harvest since 2005, when agency efforts began to stabilize deer populations in most of the state,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “The age structure of the antlered deer harvest was 49 percent 1.5 year-old-bucks and 51 percent 2.5-year-old and older bucks.

“The antlerless hunter success rate remained at about 25 percent for licenses issued. This is on average with harvest success for recent years. The age structure of this year’s antlerless deer harvest was 61 percent adult females, 22percent button bucks, and 18 percent doe fawns. The rates are similar to long-term averages.”

Bureau of Wildlife Management personnel currently are working to develop 2013-14 antlerless deer license allocation recommendations for the April meeting of the Board of Game Commissioners. Calvin W. DuBrock, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Management director, said that in addition to harvest data, the staff will be looking at deer health measures, forest regeneration and deer-human conflicts for each WMU.

Click here for a harvest breakdown by WMU

Sunday, March 24, 2013

2013 Valley Trap League Schedule

The public is welcome!

Valley League: The Valley League consists of 6 clubs roughly located along the Allegheny River valley north and east of Pittsburgh, PA. It's a 20 week league that starts April 2nd, 2013 and ends with a presentation shoot August 24th. You do not have to be a member of a club to shoot in the league for that club.

The clubs involved are Bull Creek Rod and Gun, South Buffalo Sportsmen, Tarentum Sportsmen, Ford City Sportsmen, Frazier Sportsmen and Pony Farm. The shoots are every Tuesday evening, with sign-ups from 4:30pm to 8:00pm.

Costs: program - $10.00, Junior (under 18) - $5.00, Practice: - $7.00
Program shoots 50 targets from 16 Yards.
You do not need to be a member of Bull Creek to shoot for Bull Creek!

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Trout Seekers Should Plan Now For Opening-day Success

By Bob Frye Tribune Review

The stuff of fine angling literature this is not.

The trout fishing stories you read in pricey, hardback books written by men who either wear tweed sportcoats or, at the other extreme, live off the grid and salve their cantankerous souls with bouts of Zen-like fishing, are often of the one-on-one type. The angler casts to the same wary fish over and over until he catches it, finds the meaning of life or goes crazy.
This is different.

Opening day of trout season in Pennsylvania is a time for chuckin' and pluckin'.
Anglers camp out the night before or arrive at their favorite lake or stream hours before the official starting time of 8 a.m. Even at that, they still sometimes have to hack out a narrow fishing spot amongst the crowds. Hordes of boats bob around within casting distance of one another. There are kids ready to heave out earthworms under big bobbers on superhero rods, parents interested in fishing, parents interested in keeping an eye on the kids while a spouse fishes, grandparents in both categories, anglers who look like they stepped out of an Orvis catalog, and anglers who look like they couldn't get into an Orvis catalog with a ticket.
It's a circus without the clowns. But it's also a grand tradition no true Pennsylvania angler wants to miss.

“It's one day unlike any other when parents and grandparents have the chance to create memories that last and spark a desire to fish amongst their children and grandchildren,” said Carl Richardson, outreach coordinator for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
This year, opening day of trout season in western Pennsylvania is April 13. Anglers planning to fish should be getting ready right now, though.
It's time to scout, for example.

Work by biologists to study how far trout move after being stocked has shown that most don't wander too far, said Rick Lorson, the commission's area fisheries manager based in Somerset. Given that, anglers might want to spend the next couple of weeks following the stocking trucks.

“One thing I always recommend, especially if you can do it on a Saturday, is to get out there and meet the stocking truck and see how they release fish and where they put them. It can really increase your chances of success for opening day if you can know in advance where fish have been planted,” Lorson said.

While there, look for likely fish-holding spots, said Tom Greene, the commission's coldwater unit leader and a noted trout fishermen.

“Hatchery trout have a tendency to school, so they often wind up in big numbers in large pools,” he said.

Spots around bridge piers are good, too, as are the beginnings and tail ends of pools and current breaks caused by rocks and other features, so seek them out, he said. If you're looking at lakes, he suggests finding where streams pour in, water depths change and structure exists.

These last few weeks are the time to be getting your tackle box organized, too, he said. He recommends re-spooling all of your reels prior to opening day — he prefers 4- to 8-pound test line on a 6- to 7-foot light- or medium-action rod — and making sure you have enough swivels, bait and other equipment.

A good supply of sinkers is especially important whether you're fishing with live bait or spinners, he said. “One of the biggest mistakes I see people making early in spring is not using enough weight. They're not really getting the bait down where the fish are,” Greene said.

He typically uses seven split shot when fishing bait and only a few less when using something with some weight of its own like a spinner. “You might not get hung up as often if you don't get your bait down to the bottom, but you aren't going to catch as many fish, either,” he said.
Richardson said parents and grandparents planning to fish with children should think of the “four Ps”: plan, prepare, practice and pressure.

Get kids involved in planning where to go, preparing their equipment and practicing their casting and knots to ease the pressure you and they might feel later. That leads to more fun for everyone, he said. “There are an awful lot of those kinds of things people can be doing now that all add to the experience. A lot of times we as adults feel pressure to make sure the kids catch fish on the opener, because we think that's most important. That's not always the case,” Richardson said.

“Sometimes it's the whole experience that matters.” It's time to start working on those experiences now.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pennsylvania Legislature might get involved in hog hunting

By Bob Frye

This has been like a riddle with no answer. What makes a wild hog wild?
There's been no clear definition, but that might be changing.

State lawmakers this past week advanced two bills that would redefine the term “wild animals” to exclude boars and hogs. Senate bill 644 and House Bill 723 moved through the two chambers' respective game and fisheries committees.

They would essentially make hogs behind fences — for the sake of shooting preserves — livestock rather than wildlife and would take responsibility for their management away from the Game Commission.

Lawmakers are pushing the issue because the Game Commission has been preparing to put hog-hunting operations out of business.

In April, the agency's board is expected to give final approval to regulations that would “remove protection for feral swine and wild boar statewide, wherever found, in order to protect the natural resources of the Commonwealth, its traditional agricultural and forest products industries and mitigate threats to human health and safety.”

The new rules also would prohibit the importation, possession and release into the wild of feral swine and wild boar.

The intent is to get rid of hog-hunting operations which have, in some instances, lost animals into the wild, where they become destructive nuisances.

An undetermined number of hogs already are in the wild in Pennsylvania, having originated from escaped or released pen-raised boards, commission officials have said.
The idea of doing away with fenced hog hunting is too extreme given that such escapes are “very sporadic, transitory and rare,” though, said Rep. Matt Baker, the Tioga County Republican behind House Bill 723.

His bill is meant as a compromise, he said.

“I think this brings a balance to properly regulating these animals while at the same time allowing these hunting preserves to have these animals in their midst for hunting,” Baker said.

The Game Commission is glad to finally be getting a definition of what is and isn't a wild hog, said board member Ralph Martone of New Castle.

But that likely won't stop it from acting on its proposed bans, he added.

Baker said his bill, as well as the one sponsored by the politically powerful Sen. Joseph Scarnatti, has been discussed with the legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett's office. He said he's optimistic one or both will pass this legislative session.


The legislature's involvement in the wild hog issue isn't going unnoticed.
Two organizations coming at the issue from different perspectives have already weighed in.
The Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs — which has supported Game Commission efforts to get rid of hogs — has been suggesting that sportsmen contact their legislators and ask them to consider “the consequences of allowing unregulated (hog hunting) operations.”
“A similar scenario took place a few years ago, when the legislature removed farmed deer and elk from the PGC's purview. We are now dealing with CWD in our borders, and a barely regulated industry. (The Department of Agriculture) does not have the manpower, finances or fortitude to provide the proper oversight on these operations,” an email said.

The Humane Society of the United States, which opposes all “canned hunts” within a fence on principle, has also been critical of efforts to take the job of managing hogs away from the Game Commission.
“Politics should not trump sound scientific wildlife management decisions,” it said in a news release.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

No more mining at Hereford Manor, but possible changes in boat registration

By Bob Frye

Mining for coal at the site of the former Hereford Manor lakes? Not going to happen. But a change in how boaters register their crafts? That's a maybe.
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission officials have been looking at both ideas.
The Hereford Manor property in Beaver County was once home to two lakes, both of which initially came to be in the 1950s as a result of a mining operation. In time, the commission took them over. Combined they generated more fishing trips for stocked trout than any other water in the state.
But both waters had to be drained more than a year ago because their dams no longer met safety standards.
The cost of replacing them with one lake has been estimated at $12 million to $15 million. That's money commission officials have said they don't have.
Recently, they had a couple of coal mining companies examine the property to see if there was enough coal left to harvest.
“One thought was to look into further mining the property and, in the process, have the safety issue of some remaining high walls remediated or addressed while perhaps also generating funding to help replace the dams at some point,” said Brian Barner, deputy director of the commission.
The idea didn't pan out. Both companies that assessed the site determined there's not enough coal remaining to make mining profitable, Barner said.
“Therefore, we will not be mining coal at Hereford Manor,” he added.
The commission is looking into the idea of transferring the job of registering boats to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, however.
There are about 350,000 registered boats in Pennsylvania. The commission re-registers about half of them each year. It also handles up to 50,000 transfers — where one boater sells his craft to another — a year.
All told it costs the agency about $1 million to do that work annually.
That's all a fraction of the work PennDOT does. In 2011, the agency registered about 11.5 million vehicles, including about 7.9 million passenger vehicles, according to its 2012 fact book.
Whether it can or should take on boats is a discussion that's ongoing, said PennDOT spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trasatt.
“There's been no final decision. But we are exploring the options to see what advantages there might be to partnering with the Fish and Boat Commission,” she said.
Barner said the commission is hoping to have a plan in place by year's end

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Pennsylvania Spring Turkey Season 6 Weeks Away, But Time For Hunters To Begin Preparation Is Now

By Bob Frye

Pulling into Masontown off Route 21, it felt like anything but spring.

There wasn't much snow. But nothing on the surrounding landscape was green, either. The naked trees were brown, the fields were a dingy, cornstalk yellow and the sky was a lead-like gray.

But Ed Sutton was ready to talk gobbler hunting.

Again. Still. Always.

“For some people, turkey season ends. Not for me,” he said.

Born in 1946, the Fayette County man has been hunting turkeys since he was 13. He's taken plenty, here and in other states.

This is the time of year when he starts getting ready to do it all over again.

Pennsylvania's spring gobbler season doesn't open until April 27 and doesn't end until May 31. But right now is time for figuring out where the birds are and where they're likely to be.
“Woodsmanship is the big thing,” Sutton said. “You've got to scout. You've got to find out where the birds are roosting. You've got to find out where the hens are.

“I've been out scouting already. This is when guys should be at it.”

Eric Baker of Port Matilda, a pro staffer with Primos Hunting, agreed.

“In 36 years of turkey hunting, I've learned that if the birds are there in March, they're most likely going to be there in April and May,” Baker said.

Flocks generally are at their biggest and most visible right now, he said, with a good bit of gobbling activity going on. Birds will disperse as spring approaches, and the males establish a pecking order.

Until then, though, hunters can do themselves a lot of good by spending the first 30 to 60 minutes after sunrise driving and walking field edges and woods roads listening for birds and looking for signs like droppings, tracks in mud and puddles, scratchings and feathers, said Bob Eriksen, the National Wild Turkey Federation's regional biologist for Pennsylvania and a long-time turkey hunter.

“Use your eyes, use your ears and put some miles either on your feet or your vehicle. That should give you some good options going into opening day,” Eriksen said.

Pay attention to the countryside, too.

“There are two goals to scouting, really: to make sure there are birds in your area, but also to get to know the area itself, so that when you start calling a bird, there's not some obstacle between you and him that's going to cause him to hang up,” Baker said.

“It's a tremendous advantage if you know which way the terrain is naturally likely to direct that bird once it flies down off its roost,” said Eriksen, adding that it's wise to set up on the same level or even uphill of a gobbler if possible.

From there, you've got to call that bird in. The time for sharpening those skills is now, too.
“I start practicing with my calls at least a month before the season,” Sutton said.

You can have a lot of success just by mastering the basics, Baker said. A hunter who can recreate turkey “yelps” with a box call or push-button call — the easiest kind to use — can score pretty regularly, he said.
“I bet 90 of all the turkeys killed are taken by guys who are just yelping,” Baker said.

Sutton likewise labels the yelp — a locator call that tells a gobbler a hen is near and ready for him — the most important to know. After that, the cluck, the whine, the cut and the purr are next important, he said.

You've got to put a little romance into each, though.

Sitting in his kitchen, surrounded by his mix of box calls; slate, glass and crystal pot calls; a push-button call that clips to his shotgun barrel; and mouth calls, Sutton said hunters need to mimic the natural rhythms of birds communicating with one another. Pace and subtlety are key.
“When you call to birds, you've got to put the feeling to it,” Sutton said. “But a lot of guys will start by making some basic turkey calls, and if they don't get a response right away, they go to making more aggressive calls and a lot of them. They put on a calling seminar right there in the woods. And you know who's the first to know? Mr. Gobbler. And then he's gone.”

The good news is that there are lots of turkeys in Pennsylvania, an estimated 190,000 or more. Those who start looking for them now may wind up with a season to remember — albeit at a price.

“It's highly addictive,” Eriksen said. “Once you get the turkey bug, the garden's not going to get tilled and the house isn't going to get painted in spring, that's for sure.”


Hunters will shoot somewhere between 38,000 and 45,000 turkeys across Pennsylvania this spring, if the long-term average holds true.

Not one is worth a human life.

It's imperative that every one of the quarter million or so hunters who will be in the woods — wearing camouflage and trying their best to sound like a turkey — keep that in mind, said Ed Sutton, a hunter education instructor.

Turkey hunting is for the most part safe and getting safer. Pennsylvania Game Commission statistics show 31 turkey hunters were injured in 1982; in 2011 the total was eight. That's reflective of a downward trend over time.

But because one accident is too many, Sutton offered these safety tips:

• Always be sure that your target is a legal bird before pulling the trigger.
• Never stalk what you believe to be a turkey or turkey sounds. That's illegal, anyway.
• If you see a hunter approaching you, remain motionless and yell “stop” to get their attention.
• Consider wearing an orange hat when moving through the woods. There's no law that says you have to, but it can make you more visible.

Hunters might also want to consider taking the Game Commission's new “successful turkey hunting” class, which teaches hunting techniques as well as safety. There's one on March 30 at South Connellsville Rod and Gun Club in Fayette County and another on April 21 at Mars Rod and Gun Club in Butler County. To register, visit

You also can check out video of Ed Sutton demonstrating turkey calls at

Friday, March 8, 2013

Money Will Be Factor In Dealing With Deer Disease In Pennsylvania

Bob Frye, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Money may ultimately determine how the Pennsylvania Game Commission responds to the discovery last week of chronic wasting disease in the state's wild deer herd.

Cal DuBrock, director of the commission's bureau of wildlife management, said during a news conference Monday in Harrisburg that, prior to last fall, the cost of disease surveillance had been running about $200,000 annually. The commission was paying about $130,000 of that; the rest was covered by federal dollars.

After a captive deer on an Adams County farm tested positive for wasting disease in October, though, the commission set up a 400-square-mile “disease management area” and stepped up monitoring efforts.

That drove the cost of looking for CWD to $400,000. The commission had to foot the entire bill. Federal money for CWD monitoring has “gone away,” DuBrock said.

Now, wasting disease has spread to the state's wild deer herd.

The agency confirmed Friday that three deer taken by hunters during the two-week firearms deer season tested positive for the disease. One was an adult buck from Frankstown Township in Blair County; another was an adult doe from Freedom Township, also in Blair. The third was a 11⁄2-year-old buck from South Woodbury Township in Bedford County.

The hunters who shot the deer said all appeared healthy when encountered, said Brad Myers, director of the commission's southcentral region office.

“They said there was no indication these deer had anything wrong with them,” Myers said.
The commission has also been in touch with the commercial processors who butchered the deer. Two have been identified for certain; work to figure out who the third was is ongoing, Myers said. Conservation officers are trying to find out from them where the high-risk parts from each deer – brains and lymph nodes that harbor the disease — ended up.

In the meantime, a new disease management area almost certainly will be established, DuBrock said. Hunters and deer farmers will probably be restricted in terms of their ability to move deer and high-risk deer parts in and out of the region. Rules allowing people to keep road-killed deer also may be suspended.

The commission will increase testing in the Blair and Bedford areas, and will try to examine hunter-killed deer and roadkills. But all of that work “is pretty expensive,” DuBrock added.
Whether the commission can afford to continue the intensive testing in Adams and York counties, while replicating it in Blair and Bedford, is a question that can't yet be answered, he said.

“Can we continue to spend in the area of $300,000 to $500,000 in each disease management area to do surveillance? We're really going to have to take a hard look at that,” DuBrock said.
What the commission decides may ultimately hinge on what it hopes to achieve. No state with the possible exception of New York has ever gotten rid of wasting disease once it's been found within its borders, DuBrock said. The commission must decide if its goal to is to “determine the prevalence on the landscape as opposed to stopping it.”

“At this point, there are a lot of questions and a lot of speculation, but we don't have a lot of answers,” DuBrock said

Sunday, March 3, 2013

2013 Bull Creek Spring Gun Bash!

A great event was held yesterday at Laube Hall in Freeport.  With over 700 people in attendance and ready for fun a special thanks to all the members who came out to help make this the best Gun Bash yet!

Allegheny Plateau: Last barrier blocking invasive insect that kills hemlock trees

Take a good look at the hemlock tree that shades your favorite trout fishing spot. It may not stand there long. Pennsylvania's state tree, the eastern hemlock, is under attack from an insect that is almost too small to see.

The hemlock woolly adelgid kills trees by puncturing the needles with its mouthparts and sucking out fluid. Infested trees turn gray and sickly within two years. Most die within five. Adelgid infestation has swept north along the Appalachians, already killing 95 percent of hemlocks in Virginia's Shenandoah National Park. Within Pennsylvania, HWA has decimated hemlocks south and east of the Allegheny Front, half the state. Named for its egg cases that resemble tiny woolly tufts on the undersides of hemlock needles, the scourge appears poised to creep over the Alleghenies into Western Pennsylvania.

Like many threats to native ecology, HWA arrived here by accident, probably on hemlock nursery stock imported from Asia. It first appeared in the United States in the 1920s but spread slowly. Recently, aided by mild winters that mimic its native climate, the infestation has progressed about 15 miles per year, temporarily stalled against Allegheny mountain crests.
The insects are not highly mobile themselves. Adults, called "crawlers," clamber near their host tree in early summer and again in fall. But their advance is aided by birds and squirrels, and by humans moving firewood or picking up adelgid crawlers on recreational gear.

HWA has no significant natural enemies in North America. Hemlock forests here are an open buffet for the destructive pests.

In mid-February, foresters, recreation managers and entomologists from state and federal agencies, conservation organizations and the forestry industry met at Clarion University to begin plotting a strategy for managing HWA on the Allegheny Plateau and the Allegheny National Forest. No infestations have yet been found on Pennsylvania's only national forest, but HWA has reached a scattering of sites west and north of the core of hemlock mortality, notably at Ohiopyle State Park in Fayette County, and near Benezette, Elk County, 30 miles east of the forest boundary.

Allegheny National Forest and surrounding state-owned lands harbor ancient hemlock stands.
"Hemlock is a cornerstone species," said Dale Luthringer, environmental education specialist at Cook Forest State Park, Clarion County. "There will be huge stress on the forest if hemlock disappears."

Luthringer noted the diversity of songbirds using hemlocks, the importance of hemlock shade in cooling streams, and how healthy hemlock stands cycle nitrogen so it doesn't overwhelm watersheds. The roots of some hemlocks at Cook Forest and Hearts Content Recreation Area, he said, have clung to the Allegheny Plateau for 350 years.

Mary Ann Fajvan, a U.S. Forest Service research forester in Morgantown, W.Va., said she fears for the trees' future. Fajvan has studied hemlocks from there to Maine.

"I have seen hemlock recover from a lot of stresses, but HWA is a real challenge," she said.
Foresters have few tools to fight HWA. Pesticides are available, but they are expensive and their use cumbersome. The most common practice is to inject pesticides into soil surrounding trees valued for their scenic or landmark status. The process must be repeated every few years.

"If you want to know the limits of what trees we can treat, it's those we can reach with a backpack and water to mix the materials," said Amy Hill, a U.S. Forest Service entomologist at the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia. "Most of our stands are too remote to help."
Mark Faulkenberry of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Forestry, presented a Draft Hemlock Conservation Plan, which integrates pesticides with biological controls using beetle species imported from Asia to prey on HWA. Faulkenberry said the destructive impacts of the imported beetles are studied, and if safe they are raised in laboratories for release in selected hemlock stands. Biological control shows promise, he said, but is too costly.

Attendees at the Clarion meeting agreed that with limited funding, they must prioritize which hemlock stands might and should be saved. One priority is to stop HWA at scattered sites outside the core of infestation.

Their one ally is coldness. Foresters know the colder climate west of the Allegheny Front has slowed HWA's advance. But, even there, recent mild winters presented no obstacle to its expansion.

Another challenge in conserving hemlock is its low commercial value, which attracts scant funding. But Stacie Hall, Ohiopyle State Park assistant manager, says there's great recreational value in the hemlock stands she works among every day.

"We have about 500 acres of hemlock in this 20,000-acre park. But it's all along the Youghiogheny River, Meadow Run and the Great Allegheny Passage -- places that our thousands of visitors value for their scenic beauty," Hall said. "We've been able to treat by ground injection about 200 trees on Ferncliff Peninsula, a National Natural Landmark -- beautiful trees we don't want to lose."

Besides noting aesthetic and ecological value, Hall called the potential impact of losing hemlock on the Laurel Highlands region "economically significant."

"The park visitor will see a dramatic difference here" if the hemlocks die, Hall said. "People travel long distances to hike or bicycle in the shade of old growth hemlocks in the Youghiogheny Gorge. If dead hemlocks begin falling in the river it will impact rafting and kayaking, and the trees will be expensive and dangerous to remove."

Hall expressed some optimism. Ohiopyle was recently granted a permit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to begin biological control of HWA.

"We're hopeful but we still have to prioritize where we release the beetles," she cautioned.
Meanwhile, Hall and her professional colleagues long for spring as much as anyone, but they're hoping for a cold March