Sunday, March 29, 2015

Game Commission To Seek License Fee Increase In 2016-17

This time they mean to do something about it.

It has been 15 years since the cost of Pennsylvania hunting and trapping licenses increased, from $12 to $19. On and off for the last 10 of those years, Game Commission officials have talked about the need to bump up costs a bit.

The commission can't set its own license fees, though. Only state lawmakers have that authority.

And they've been unwilling to act. The commission is going to press the issue — in a cooperative way — this summer, however.

The plan is for the agency to determine internally among staff and board members, how much money it needs to sustain itself over the next 15 years, executive director Matt Hough said. It will take that information to key members of the state House of Representatives and Senate and to sportsmen and other conservation partners for support, he added.

The hope is license fees can be increased in time for the 2016-17 license year, he said.

Hough first outlined that timeline this past week in giving his annual report to the House game and fisheries committee. He was asked for specifics.

“How much of an increase are you thinking you might need? And how long do you expect that to last,” asked the committee's chairman, Republican Keith Gillespie of York County.

“We really don't have a specific proposal yet,” Hough said. “But the idea is to be able to say, ‘We need X number of dollars. We don't care how we get there, but this is what we need.' ”

He said possible, as an example, that the commission might ask for the cost of a general hunting license to go from its current $19 to $29 for five years, then to $39 for five years after that.

Whether the commission might also ask for the prices of special licenses — like those for archery and bear hunting — to go up is undecided, he said.

Right now, according to information provided by commission press secretary Travis Lau, hunting in Pennsylvania is a bargain.

A Pennsylvania resident who wants the right to hunt an antlered deer, spring and fall turkeys, pheasants and other small game, and waterfowl — excluding the cost of a federal duck stamp — needs spend $24 on licenses, he said.

By comparison, a license conveying those same privileges would cost a hunter $32 in New York, $34 in Maryland and West Virginia, $56 in Virginia, $73 in Michigan, $106 in Ohio, $116 in Wisconsin and $122 in New Jersey, according to Lau's figures.

Hough suggested lawmakers could ease the burden on sportsmen, though.

Many other states provide their wildlife agencies with general tax revenues to help offset their expenses, he said. That doesn't happen in Pennsylvania.

The commission gets about 37 percent of its revenue from license sales, according to commission figures. That's the biggest contributor to its budget.

The commission wants to retain that, Hough said. The “North American Model” of wildlife management calls for hunters and trappers to foot most of the bill for wildlife conservation, and that's been so successful the commission wants to keep that as the basis of its operations, Hough said.

But getting some general fund money — a portion of any severance tax adopted on Marcellus shale gas extraction, a piece of the sales tax collected on hunting and shooting equipment, or something else — is critical and will only be more so in the future, he said.

“As our base — the number of hunters and trappers — declines, that just means each individual left has to pay more and more, and I'm not sure how much longer they can do that,” Hough said.
The consequences of not finding more money for the agency will be real, he warned.

In 2005, for example, the commission had 100 vacancies on its staff — many of them food and cover corps workers tasked with creating wildlife habitat on state game lands — that it could not afford to fill. Infrastructure needs went unaddressed, too.

“We had maintenance people driving trucks, state vehicles, that couldn't leave the state game lands because they wouldn't pass inspection,” Hough said.

The commission was able to address those problems using money generated from Marcellus shale leases, he said. But that has largely run its course, he said.

If new money isn't found, there will be cutbacks of all sorts, he said.

“Habitat work on game lands will go undone, research on species will not be completed, pheasant stockings will decrease, and violations of the law will go undetected,” Hough said. “This is the stark financial reality that we face.”

Ideally, the commission, sportsmen and lawmakers can come up with a plan for staving all that off, he said.

“I think if we do it the right way, we can make this happen,” Hough said.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

2015 Bull Creek 3-D Archery Schedule and Details!

Here is the schedule for the 2015 season. 

April 19th
May 17th
June 21st
July 12th
August 16th
September 20th




30+ Targets

Food and Beverages Available
Registration 9:00-2:00

Adults $10.00    Youth Under 16 $5.00

Kitchen will be open

As always, we encourage all ages and skill levels to come out and participate. And yes, cross bows and traditionals are welcome. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bull Creek 3-D Program Hoping For Big Year

By Bob Frye.

There was a time when the 3-D archery program at Bull Creek Rod and Gun Club was as active as any.

That disappeared for a long while.

There's an effort underway
to change that, though. The Tarentum club, led by members Jason Siefried and Bill Norris, re-initiated a 3-D program on a small scale in 2013. It ramped things up a bit last year and is looking to really grow it starting this spring.

“It's been a lot of work getting to the point where we are now,” Siefried said. “But we keep doing better and better every season.”

Indeed, a few years back, they had just a few old targets to offer shooters. Now the club has 36 or so, including whitetails, standing and bedded elk, caribou, bears, a raccoon, groundhog, porcupine, moose, and a dinosaur that's proven popular with young shooters.

There's even an alligator that came in especially handy last year.

“We had a small pond, so we stuck some duck decoys out there and had the alligator positioned like it was sneaking into the water after them,” Norris said. “The kids just wanted to shoot at it all day. They had a ball.”

The club will offer six shoots, one a month from April through September. They're open to all archers, including those with crossbows.

The course will vary from time to time, with whitetail targets placed to replicate actual hunting scenes dominant at the last one, to help archers get tuned up for bow season, Norris said.

In time, the club may even try to start a 3-D league, or host an International Bowhunting Organization shoot.

That's down the road, though, Siefried said.

For now, the emphasis is on getting shooters — and especially kids — out with their bows, and coming to Bull Creek.

“It seems like every shoot, we're drawing in a few more people, so the snowball's kind of growing,” he said.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Game Commission Releases Deer Harvest Estimates

Harvests decreased statewide in 2014-15, report shows.

          The Pennsylvania Game Commission today reported that, in the state’s 2014-15 seasons, hunters harvested an estimated 303,973 deer – a decrease of about 14 percent compared to the 2013-14 harvest of 352,920. 

Hunters took 119,260 antlered deer in the 2014-15 seasons – a decrease of about 11 percent compared to the previous license year, when an estimated 134,280 bucks were taken. Also, hunters harvested an estimated 184,713 antlerless deer in 2014-15, which represents an about 16 percent decrease compared to the 218,640 antlerless deer taken in 2013-14. 

“We put these numbers out each year and, whether there’s an increase or decrease in the harvest, people want to know why,” said Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough. “While it’s impossible to provide explanations with certainty, there were a couple of factors over the 2014-15 deer seasons that seem to have contributed to a decreased harvest.”

          Some of the decrease is by design, Hough said. 

          The Game Commission last year reduced the number of antlerless licenses available for sale. Fewer licenses were allocated in nearly every Wildlife Management Unit, and statewide, 59,500 fewer antlerless licenses were issued.

          Reducing the allocation within a Wildlife Management Unit allows deer numbers to grow there.  Records show it takes an allocation of about four antlerless licenses to harvest one antlerless deer, so a reduced antlerless harvest was anticipated due to a reduced allocation. 

          Additionally, the weather during the two-week firearms deer season was less than ideal in much of the state. Some parts of the state saw unusually high temperatures on the season’s opening day. And depending on where you hunted, conditions on the first Saturday might have included steady rain, snow or dense fog.

          “When the weather is warmer, hunters tend to sit tight longer, and the deer tend to move less, as well,” said David Putnam, the president of the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners. “Meanwhile, adverse weather can be just about unhuntable and the deer seek cover, too, which decreases hunter success rates.” 

          Pennsylvania’s reduced harvest corresponds also with harvest decreases within neighboring states this past season. Research shows that when mast crops like acorns are especially abundant, as was the case in many parts of Pennsylvania this past season, deer harvests tend to drop because deer don’t have to move far to get food.

Harvest estimates are based on more than 24,000 deer checked by Game Commission personnel and more than 100,000 harvest reports submitted by successful hunters. Because some harvests go unreported, estimates provide a more accurate picture of hunter success. However, in 2014-15 the rate at which successful hunters reported their harvests increased slightly.

The 2014-15 harvest contained its highest percentage of adult bucks in decades. Of the antlered deer taken, 43 percent were 1½-year-old bucks, with the remaining 57 percent being 2½ years old or older.

The antlerless harvest included about 61 percent adult females, about 20 percent button bucks and about 18 percent doe fawns. The rates are similar to long-term averages.

The antlerless success rate remained about 25 percent for the licenses issued.  

Agency staff currently is working to develop 2015-16 antlerless deer license allocation recommendations, which will be voted on at the April 10 meeting of the Board of Game Commissioners. John Dunn, interim Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Management director, said that in addition to harvest data, staff will be looking at deer health measures, forest regeneration and deer-human conflicts for each WMU.

Total deer harvest estimates by WMU for 2014-15 (with 2013-14 figures in parentheses) are as follows:

WMU 1A: 5,100 (6,400) antlered, 10,800 (13,900) antlerless;
WMU 1B: 5,800 (6,800) antlered, 8,800 (10,800) antlerless;
WMU 2A: 5,100 (6,800) antlered, 9,600 (13,200) antlerless;
WMU 2B: 4,300 (5,600) antlered, 13,000 (14,000) antlerless;
WMU 2C: 7,000 (7,200) antlered, 9,029 (11,000) antlerless;
WMU 2D: 11,400 (13,700) antlered 16,400 (21,600) antlerless;
WMU 2E: 4,400 (4,900) antlered, 5,600 (8,000) antlerless;
WMU 2F: 6,000 (6,600) antlered, 5,900 (8,000) antlerless;
WMU 2G: 4,800 (5,000) antlered, 4,700 (6,900) antlerless;
WMU 2H: 1,700 (1,500) antlered, 1,100 (1,700) antlerless;
WMU 3A: 3,300 (4,200) antlered, 4,300 (5,400) antlerless;
WMU 3B: 6,000 (6,200) antlered, 8,100 (8,700) antlerless;
WMU 3C: 6,500 (7,000) antlered, 10,300 (12,700) antlerless;
WMU 3D: 4,200 (3,400) antlered, 5,200 (5,000) antlerless;
WMU 4A: 3,300 (5,000) antlered, 6,805 (6,000) antlerless;
WMU 4B: 4,600 (5,300) antlered, 5,600 (5,800) antlerless;
WMU 4C: 4,800 (5,200) antlered, 5,000 (6,900) antlerless;
WMU 4D: 6,500 (7,200) antlered, 6,848 (8,200) antlerless;
WMU 4E: 5,800 (6,300) antlered, 5,900 (7,700) antlerless;
WMU 5A: 2,400 (2,800) antlered, 3,300 (4,100) antlerless;
WMU 5B: 6,900 (7,400) antlered, 12,400 (12,800) antlerless;
WMU 5C: 8,000 (8,100) antlered, 22,200 (21,700) antlerless;
WMU 5D: 1,300 (1,600) antlered, 3,800 (4,500) antlerless; and
Unknown WMU: 60 (80) antlered, 31 (40) antlerless.

Season-specific 2014-15 deer harvest estimates (with 2013-14 harvest estimates in parentheses) are as follows:
WMU 1A: archery, 2,320 (2,730) antlered, 2,350 (2,450) antlerless; and muzzleloader, 80 (70) antlered, 1,050 (1,250) antlerless.
WMU 1B: archery, 2,270 (2,380) antlered, 1,340 (1,530) antlerless; muzzleloader, 30 (20) antlered, 560 (670) antlerless.
WMU 2A: archery, 1,940 (1,640) antlered, 2,020 (2,060) antlerless; muzzleloader, 60 (40) antlered, 1,280 (2,080) antlerless.
WMU 2B: archery, 3,060 (3,740) antlered, 6,610 (6,010) antlerless; muzzleloader, 40 (60) antlered, 890 (990) antlerless.
WMU 2C: archery, 2,740 (2,730) antlered, 1,776 (2,150) antlerless; muzzleloader, 60 (70) antlered, 1,040 (1,550) antlerless.
WMU 2D: archery, 4,510 (4,960) antlered, 2,650 (2,940) antlerless; muzzleloader, 90 (140) antlered, 2,150 (2,660) antlerless.
WMU 2E: archery, 1,460 (1,570) antlered, 780 (1,010) antlerless; muzzleloader, 40 (30) antlered, 720 (1,190) antlerless.
WMU 2F: archery, 1,730 (1,660) antlered, 960 (1,070) antlerless; muzzleloader, 70 (40) antlered, 840 (1,230) antlerless.
WMU 2G: archery, 1,050 (1,180) antlered, 850 (1,170) antlerless; muzzleloader, 50 (20) antlered, 850 (1,430) antlerless.
WMU 2H: archery, 380 (290) antlered, 140 (290) antlerless; muzzleloader, 20 (10) antlered, 160 (310) antlerless.
WMU 3A: archery, 870 (1,080) antlered, 540 (620) antlerless; muzzleloader, 30 (20) antlered, 460 (680) antlerless.
WMU 3B: archery, 1,950 (2,040) antlered, 1,500 (1,820) antlerless; muzzleloader, 50 (60) antlered, 1,200 (1,490) antlerless.
WMU 3C: archery, 1,660 (1,950) antlered, 1,780 (2,230) antlerless; muzzleloader, 40 (50) antlered, 1,420 (1,970) antlerless.
WMU 3D: archery, 1,350 (1,170) antlered, 960 (1,130) antlerless; muzzleloader, 50 (30) antlered, 440 (670) antlerless.
WMU 4A: archery, 740 (900) antlered, 1,057 (600) antlerless; muzzleloader, 60 (100) antlered, 1,096 (800) antlerless.
WMU 4B: archery, 1,650 (1,650) antlered, 1,190 (1,080) antlerless; muzzleloader, 50 (50) antlered, 710 (820) antlerless.
WMU 4C: archery, 1,840 (2,250) antlered, 1,240 (1,540) antlerless; muzzleloader, 60 (50) antlered, 660 (860) antlerless.
WMU 4D: archery, 1,920 (1,950) antlered, 1,356 (1,660) antlerless; muzzleloader, 80 (50) antlered, 913 (1,140) antlerless.
WMU 4E: archery, 2,070 (2,240) antlered, 1,070 (1,650) antlerless; muzzleloader, 30 (60) antlered, 630 (1,050) antlerless.
WMU 5A: archery, 960 (970) antlered, 720 (850) antlerless; muzzleloader, 40 (30) antlered, 380 (550) antlerless.
WMU 5B: archery, 3,730 (4,030) antlered, 3,920 (3,730) antlerless; muzzleloader, 70 (70) antlered, 1,180 (1,270) antlerless.
WMU 5C: archery, 4,790 (5,110) antlered, 10,210 (9,840) antlerless; muzzleloader, 110 (90) antlered, 1,490 (1,760) antlerless.
WMU 5D: archery, 990 (1,300) antlered, 2,730 (3,140) antlerless; muzzleloader, 10 (0) antlered, 70 (160) antlerless.
Unknown WMU: archery, 40 (80) antlered, 0 (10) antlerless; muzzleloader, 0 (0) antlered, 0 (0) antlerless.

For additional information on Pennsylvania’s 2014-15 deer harvest, please go to the agency’s website – and click on “White-Tailed Deer” on the homepage, and then select 2014-15 Deer Harvest Estimates under “Deer Management.”

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Improvements Make PA State Park Online Reservation More Consumer-Friendly

 Harrisburg – Conservation and Natural Resources Acting Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced that the department is upgrading its online system for Pennsylvania state park campsite, cabin and pavilion reservations.

The new system on DCNR’s website is now live.

“One of the key new features is the ability for customers to make a state park reservation on a mobile device,” Dunn said. “Many people now seek information and make their travel plans on their smart phones and other devices. This upgrade fits nicely with Gov. Wolf’s effort to highlight government that works, making it a better experience for our visitors to interact with DCNR when making plans to visit a state park.”

The online reservation system was first launched in 2006. This update includes:
  • ·         Better campsite descriptions;
  • ·         Easier site navigation;
  • ·         An upgraded map view;
  • ·         Mobile reservation capabilities;
  • ·         Availability notifications;
  • ·         A simpler check out process; and
  • ·         Increased security.

Users can search for available campsites, picnic pavilions and other facilities on-line as well as make reservations at their convenience.

“Pennsylvania has 120 state parks that offer incredible activities to explore our rich legacy of forests, lakes, mountains, trails, wildlife and natural heritage,” Dunn said. “With that many options there’s something for everyone, and arranging an overnight stay is now even easier.”

DCNR has a one-year contract within renewal options for an additional four years with ACTIVE Network™ for the cloud-based reservation system.

To make online reservations, park users should visit and click on “Reservations.” On-line visitors can access the reservation system 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Visitors can charge reservations with their credit cards. Reservations can be made up to 11 months prior to a planned arrival date.

Park visitors also may call the toll-free number 1-888-PA-PARKS (888-727-2757) to receive information and make reservations. This service is available Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for major holidays.

Pennsylvania’s 120 state parks are open year round and attract about 38 million visitors a year. They offer about 6,200 campsites; 300 cabins; 91 camping and deluxe cottages; and 34 yurts.

Pennsylvania state parks generate more than $1 billion in economic activity in nearby communities and support almost 13,000 related jobs.

For more information on state parks and forests in Pennsylvania visit the DCNR website at

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

PA Game Commission Ranks Replenished

Wildlife Conservation Officers graduate as part of Ross Leffler School of Conservation’s 30th Class.

          Pennsylvania has gained 25 new Wildlife Conservation Officers.  Following 51 weeks of intensive training, the 30th Class of the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Ross Leffler School of Conservation graduated Saturday during a ceremony at Susquehanna Township Middle School. 

            The graduates were commissioned as officers, and have been assigned to their new districts. 

During the ceremony, graduates were recognized for achievements in the areas of academics, marksmanship, physical fitness, driving skills and leadership. 

WCO Graduate Jason Wagner received the class award for academics, with a score of 98.6 percent. The class’ average score was 92.7 percent. 

Wagner also received the Emergency Vehicle Operator Course driving award. 

WCO Graduate Jared Turner was honored with the marksmanship award, scoring 634 out of a possible 700 points. 

WCO Graduate Matthew Johnson was selected as the fitness award winner for maintaining the highest standard of physical fitness during the 51-week training program.

And, WCO Graduate Brandon Pfister was chosen by his classmates to receive the “Torch Award for Leadership.” 

Members of the 30th Class, their hometowns and their new assignments are:
Blake Barth, of Lock Haven (western Bradford County); Steven Brussese, of Newport (northwestern Tioga County); Michael College, of Altoona (Montour County); Zachary Edwards, of Nanty Glo (northern Somerset County); Jeremy Febinger, of Kittanning (western Greene County); Joel Gibble, of Lebanon, (eastern Schuylkill County); Skyler Gibble, of Coudersport (northwestern McKean County); Michael Goodenow Jr., of Athens (northeastern Bradford County); Andrew Harvey, of Friedens (southern Fayette County); Ellyn Henry, of Emmaus (southern Bucks County); Matthew Johnson, of Lansdale (northern Chester County); Eric Kelly, of Clifton Township (southeastern Bradford County); Thomas Kline, of Reading (western Allegheny County); Tyler Kreider, of Stroudsburg (southern Lehigh and Northampton counties); Jason Macunas, of Auburn (southeastern Berks County); Eric McBride, of Clearfield (northwestern Warren County); Jeffrey Orwig, of Felton (southern McKean County); Brandon Pfister, of Duncansville, (northern Bedford County); Amanda Powell, of Huntingdon, (eastern Greene County); Benjamin Rebuck, of Sunbury (southern Susquehanna County); Justin Ritter, of Boiling Springs (Delaware County); Matthew Savinda, of Tarentum (southern Warren County); Michael Stutts Jr., of Meadville (western Erie County); Jared Turner, of Bristol (northern Lackawanna County); and Jason Wagner, of Elizabethtown (eastern Elk County). 

In 1930, Ross Leffler, then president of the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners, proposed the establishment of a training school for game protectors. When the training school opened its doors in 1932, in Brockway, Jefferson County, it was the first such conservation officer training school in the world and served as a model for other states. 

From 1932 until 1935, the Ross Leffler School of Conservation offered in-service training for game protectors. The Commission voted to make the school a permanent facility and enrolled its first class of trainees in 1936, and continued training new classes at this facility until 1986. 

In 1987, the training school was moved to the Harrisburg headquarters, which just opened the doors to its current facility in Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County. 

Game Commission WCOs are responsible for administering a wide variety of agency programs within an assigned district of about 350 square miles. 

Primary duties include law enforcement, responding to wildlife conflicts, conservation education, and administration of the Hunter-Trapper Education program. Officers also are responsible for supervising and training part-time Deputy Wildlife Conservation Officers

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Coyotes Proliferate Despite Year-Round Hunting

There was no controversy here, deep in rural Clearfield County.

Mosquito Creek Sportsmen's Association recently held its 24th annual coyote hunt. Almost 4,000 hunters registered to compete for nearly $40,000 in prize money.

It's the oldest and biggest of the 20 or so such contests held across Pennsylvania each winter.

The hunts are not universally loved. Within the past year, hunts elsewhere spawned lawsuits, regulatory changes and protests.

But at Mosquito Creek, the mood was festive.

With an hour to go before final weigh-ins — the heaviest coyotes earn the largest cash prizes — the club parking lot was overflowing. Trucks and SUVs stretched out single-file along the entry road.

Hunters — mostly men, but a few women, too — were lined up outside the musky check station, coyotes at their feet. Many of the hunters were still dressed in their woodland and snow camo.

A young spectator with bright pink highlights in her blond hair pointed excitedly at each new coyote, saying, “I hope I get to touch one.” Little boys eating icicles played hide and seek. Families squeezed in and out of the packed clubhouse where food, drinks and souvenir hats, patches and T-shirts were being sold.

In the end, 162 coyotes — the most since 2011 — were registered.

“When you're here looking at them, that seems like a lot. But if you go by how many are probably out there, this isn't making a dent,” said club spokesman Frank Josefik. “It's a grain of sand.”

‘Maxed out everywhere'

Experts say Josefik is probably right.

Licensed hunters and trappers killed 1,810 coyotes across Pennsylvania in 1990. In 2013, the total was a record 40,956.

But coyotes are thriving, here and across the Northeast, said Tom Hardisky, a biologist with the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

“They're pretty much maxed out everywhere,” he said.

That's a testament to their versatility, said Jon Kligo, a wildlife research biologist with the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station in South Carolina. They eat everything from rabbits and squirrels to insects, fruit and nuts.

They also prey on white-tailed deer fawns. They're not the only predator to do so, but they are among the best, he said.

“When it comes to predation on deer, it's really variable, depending on where you are, the predator community, whether you've got bears or bobcats, or even domestic dogs in cases,” Kligo said. “The relative importance of each species can vary.

“The one thing that's most consistent is coyotes are always at the top of the list or near the top of the list everywhere.”

A very open season

A desire by hunters to protect deer sparked a lot of the organized coyote hunts.
They're likely not accomplishing much, despite incredibly flexible rules.

Trappers in Pennsylvania can pursue coyotes for 120 days, and hunters can shoot them 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

That's unique: There's no other species for which it is legal to hunt even when adults are raising young, Hardisky said.

The same rules apply in Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia. New York and New Jersey prohibit hunting from May through September.
But no one's ever been able to significantly decrease the number of coyotes, said Duane Diefenbach, director of the Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research. They're too resilient.

“They control their own destiny,” Diefenbach said.

Contests challenged ...

That has not stopped people — mostly animal welfare groups — from condemning the hunts.

In July, an Animal Legal Defense Fund lawsuit in Oregon ended an 8-year coyote hunting contest. The suit claimed the contest violated state gambling laws.

In December, Project Coyote persuaded the California Fish and Game Commission to ban coyote contests statewide.

In January, protesters in Arizona picketed a predator hunter convention. The hunters were there only because officials in their previous host city in New Mexico passed a resolution opposing organized coyote hunts.

Last month, the New Mexico state Senate approved a bill prohibiting coyote contests.
Jon Way, founder of Eastern Coyote/Coywolf Research, expects challenges to arise in more places.

Way, author of “the world's first carnivore conservation act,” which he has proposed in Massachusetts, said wildlife agencies cater almost solely to hunters, treating predators such as coyotes “like trash.”

“There's a minority of people who casually kill them, and they're basically given the green light to do whatever they want year-round,” he said. “Predator management needs to be more inclusive.”

... and defended

Dave Putnam, president of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, said he has not received any complaints about coyote hunts, nor does he expect any.

“Pennsylvania will be one of the last states to go that way, just because we have so many hunters,” Putnam said.

Adam Fabian of Ohiopyle, who runs the hunt for the Laurel Highlands Coon Hunters Club, said the contests simply mirror the growing popularity of predator hunting as a sport.

Hunts offer an opportunity for camaraderie, noted Peter Cupari of Fallowfield, who runs the Charleroi Sportsmen's Association hunt.

“It's just a good time to sit around and talk about coyotes, raffle off a few guns and have some good food and drinks,” he said.

If anything, coyote hunts have earned the animals some admiration, said Steve Miner of Grove City, who checked in three coyotes at Mosquito Creek.

“I hunt everything. But I real-ly love coyote hunting because they're smart — really one of the smartest animals I've ever seen,” he said. “That's what makes it so fun.”

Fur bearer harvests

Pennsylvania coyote harvests have been trending upward. Here's a look at how the take compared with that of other species in 2013.
Raccoon: 197,380
Muskrat: 83,880
Red fox: 61,392
Opossum: 57,138
Coyote: 40,956
Gray fox: 15,700
Beaver: 15,134

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.