Monday, August 31, 2015

Congratulations Bull Creek Member Jason Davidek!

By Jodi Weigand 

Allegheny League of Municipalities names executive director
Former township supervisor and school district administrator Jason Davidek is fully embracing his roots in public policy as the newly-selected executive director of the Allegheny League of Municipalities.
“My experience working in the school realm provided me with necessary skills to be successful in the role as executive director,” he said. “Combined with my prior experience (in local government), I think that blend will help me.”
Davidek started the job last Monday and spent his first week working with outgoing Executive Director Richard Hadley, who is retiring after serving in the post for five years.
Before moving into his most recent role — the South Butler School District spokesman and transportation director — Davidek, 36, of Fawn, spent most of his career in government.
He served as a legislative assistant to former state Rep. Jane Orie from 2002 to 2004, then as an aide to former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum from 2004 to 2007.
When Santorum lost his re-election bid, Davidek moved on, working in public relations in the McKeesport Area School District until 2009, when he was hired in South Butler.
He never fully left politics, though. He was a Fawn Township supervisor for nearly 12 years, until resigning recently to take the League of Municipalities job.
He also served as board president of Allegheny County Association of Township Officials, which is part of the Allegheny League of Municipalities.
The League is a nonprofit organization that helps boroughs, townships, cities and municipal authorities in Allegheny County by offering a coordinated approach to legislation and services.
The League, according to its website, encourages intergovernmental cooperation by facilitating communication, cooperation and coordination on matters of areawide concern.
Its training programs for municipalities evolved into a separate, independent organization known as The Local Government Academy.
Davidek said the advocacy component of the League is part of what drew him to the job.
“I still consider myself to be in the early part of my career, and (this job) was an opportunity to manage an association where I could provide strong ideas and accomplish some goals and we can be a resource across the county,” he said. “I think how we do that is based on what their needs are. Over the next several months, I plan to reach out and talk with them about what we can do to help.”
Hadley said that's one of the most challenging parts of the executive director position – addressing the diversity and differing sizes of the county's 130 municipalities.
“You have some that are very sophisticated to some that are very small and don't have many resources; so how do we take issues and try to help everybody — when they may be looking at issues from different points of view,” he said. “Take Marcellus shale for example: some may be totally against it, and some may be all for it.”
The challenge is to provide information in a manner that can help everyone, he said.
Davidek said as a township supervisor, he took advantage of what the League offers and is looking forward to using that interaction to formulate ways to make better connections with municipalities.
“The networking opportunities made me realize the issues and challenges in Fawn also took place in other municipalities, and they have come up with creative ideas and have managed to work through those challenges,” he said. “You're not on an island, so to speak.”
As Hadley leaves for retirement, he said if he had to point to one of his proudest accomplishments, it would be the Banner Community program he implemented three years ago to recognize municipalities that are doing a good job of local governing.
The program recognizes municipalities that make a commitment to effective, efficient and accountable government principles, actively participate in showcasing how government works, ensure the voice of their municipality is heard and work with other communities to provide effective and efficient services.
“In local government, we don't do a particularly good job in promoting the good work that we do,” said Hadley, who was Reserve Township's manager for eight years. “We want to help promote back to their constituents that they're working hard to provide services.”
Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Pa. Game Commission Wants Fee Hikes, Must Convince Sportsmen To Buy In

By Bob Frye 
The Pennsylvania Game Commission has some work to do.
Last week, agency officials said they are seeking the first increase in the cost of hunting and furtaking licenses since 1999.
Only once before in the commission's 120-year history — the years from the Great Depression through World War II — has it gone longer.
The commission survived this latest stretch because midway through, it “simply got lucky” in being able to capitalize on the demand for Marcellus shale gas under its state game lands, deputy director Rich Palmer said.
That boom “is pretty much over,” Palmer said. And without any new money, the commission is facing a $12 million budget deficit in the coming fiscal year — one that could grow to $36 million by the 2019-20 fiscal year, he said.
Executive director Matt Hough said a license price hike is the answer.
The commission wants to increase the cost of resident general adult hunting and furtaking, archery, bear, muzzleloader, migratory game bird, antlerless deer and second spring gobbler tags by a factor of two, three and, in cases, five over the next five years. That, Palmer said, would secure the agency's funding needs for a decade.
“We didn't just pick a number for a license increase. It is calculated based on our projected needs to accomplish the agency's mission,” Palmer said.
It also is based on history.
“The reason that was selected is we know a 50 percent increase on that general license is politically achievable. And it's also within the tolerable range of sportsmen,” Palmer said.
The commission can't raise fees on its own. Only state lawmakers have that authority. Palmer said they have told the commission they are open to taking that step in time for next year but only after it convinces sportsmen to get behind the idea.
That is where it has some work to do.
A poll of several statewide sportsmen's organizations revealed mixed feelings about a fee hike.
The United Bowhunters of Pennsylvania is supporting the proposed increases, even though the cost of an archery stamp would go from $15 to $30 in five years, said the group's president, Rick Conley of Manheim.
Traditionally, license fee hikes are meant to last seven or eight years, he said. The commission has gone nearly 16.
“So this is coming up on the second increase they should have had,” he said.
Maybe more importantly, he added, a Pennsylvania hunting license would remain a relative bargain.
Right now, according to commission figures, only in Hawaii does it cost a hunter less to get a resident license good for killing an antlered deer, spring and fall turkey, small game and waterfowl. Even if a license goes to $39, Pennsylvania still would be in the bottom 10 or so states price-wise, Palmer added.
“So even this increase wouldn't move us very far up the list,” Conley said.
The Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs generally is supportive of a fee increase, too, said president Lowell Graybill of Elizabethtown. But he wouldn't go so far as to say the group's members will favor this proposal exactly. Some members might balk at “the idea of paying twice as much to play.”
“I think there's going to be a lot of understanding of the need,” Graybill said. “What I'm not sure of is if our organization is going to come back fully supportive of the proposal, or the extent of the proposal.”
The Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania will not support any move to increase prices, said president Randy Santucci of McKees Rocks.
Sportsmen are the agency's primary constituency — license sales account for 40 percent of its revenues — yet the commission isn't good lately at considering their wants and needs, Santucci said. For example, the group for years has lobbied the commission to grow the deer herd substantially.
It has made only token changes, though, he said.
“I guess we'd like to be a team player,” Santucci said. “But everyone's got to have the same color jersey on. I don't think that's always the case here.”
The commission will have to convince some lawmakers of the need to increase license costs, said Hugh Baird, spokesman for state Sen. Jim Brewster, the Allegheny County Democrat who serves as minority chairman of the Senate game and fisheries committee. Some understand the commission needs additional revenue to “preserve the resource.” Others do not, he said.
“It's contact. It's education. It's making people aware of the needs that are out there,” Baird said.
Those needs are real, Palmer said. If the commission has to balance future budgets without new revenue, “significant” changes for the worse in habitat development, disease management and more inevitably will result, he added.
That is the reality sportsmen face, Graybill said.
“It's pretty apparent we're going to see either programs cut and services cut, or we're going to have to pay the price,” he added.
The proposal
A look at the Pennsylvania Game Commission's proposed license fee increases. If enacted — even accounting for a 3 percent drop in license sales — the hikes are projected to bring in almost $40 million in new revenue in Year 1, $48.6 million in Year 3 and $57.1 million in Year 5 from resident hunters and $8.8 million, $10.5 million and $12 million from nonresidents. The commission hopes to have the new fees in place by the 2016-17 license year.
                       Current    Year 1    Year 3     Year 5
License type     price      price        price         price
Resident adult   $19        $29          $34          $39
Bear                  $15        $20          $25          $30
Archery              $15       $20           $25          $30
Muzzleloader    $10        $20           $25          $30
Furtaker            $19        $29           $34          $39
Migratory game bird $2   $5             $7.50       $10
Special wild turkey license $20 $25 $27.50     $30
Antlerless deer $5          $10           $12.50      $15
Ultimate sportsmen N/A $125         $150         $175
• Each license would have an additional $1.70 attached to it for issuing agent and automated licensing system fees.
• There would be no change in the cost of junior, junior combo and senior resident licenses, or in the cost of bobcat, fisher or elk licenses.
• The “ultimate sportsmen” license would be something new. It would give the person who buys resident hunting and furtaking, archery, bear, muzzleloader, migratory game bird and second spring gobbler tags a price break. Buying them individually in a year's time would cost $148 under Year 1 of the increases, $178 in Year 3 and $208 in Year 5. Buyers of an ultimate sportsmen license would get them for $125, $150 and $175, respectively.
• Nonresident license fees also would increase under the proposal, in all the same categories.
Source: Pennsylvania Game Commission.
Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

PA Hunting License Fees Could Double By 2025

The words “social” and “media” were rarely used together, and it cost 33 cents to mail a letter. In 1999, a gallon of milk was $2.88 and $5 got you a ticket to see “Star Wars: Episode 1 — The Phantom Menace.” And if you could drag yourself away from “The Sopranos” long enough to go hunting, a Pennsylvania adult resident license cost $19.
Just about everything is more expensive now, but the price of a hunting license is still $19 — the PALS automated licensing system deducts another $1.70 from your debit card.
The Game Commission has a leaner staff than in 1999, but personnel costs have increased by $35 million. Pennsylvania spends no general fund tax dollars on its wildlife commissions. The agency benefited from the boom years of shale gas leases, but most of that money, we’re told, has been spent.
In his spring financial report, executive director Matt Hough reminded legislators, without providing details, that if revenues were not raised services would be cut. He recommended a series of gradual license fee increases reaching $39 for an adult resident license in 2025. This week, Hough plans to press his case to the media as he continues to press the legislature.
Remember what you recently paid for a gallon of milk — the price may be relevant in 10 years.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Game Commission My Ban Use Of Deer Urine

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Game Commissioners are going to at least consider the idea of banning the use of deer urine for hunting statewide.
Chronic wasting disease is the reason.
The disease has spread across the country in recent years. That's troublesome, said Justin Brown, the commission's wildlife veterinarian. He told board members there's no way to treat it, no way to test an animal for it without killing it, and virtually no way to eradicate it once it's discovered in the wild.
Every deer that gets the disease dies, Brown said. In a state like Pennsylvania, where deer hunting has an annual economic impact of $1 billion, that's a big deal, he said.
“You have to realize the magnitude of what we're dealing with here,” Brown told commissioners.
A ban on using urine might slow or stop the disease's spread, he suggested.
Urine — collected on deer farms with “little or no” regulatory oversight — contains the prions that harbor the disease. During collection, it often comes in contact with feces and saliva, both of which are more likely to harbor disease, Brown said.
Hunters then sprinkle the urine, from does in heat, on the ground to attract rutting bucks.
The trouble, Brown said, is prions can exist in soil for a long time and even be taken up by plants. That means once the disease enters the environment, it's likely there long term, Brown said.
“So if there was a time to take a proactive measure, I believe it is now,” he added.
Four states — Virginia, Vermont, Arizona and Alaska — have already banned urine use. Here, ironically, the use of deer urine is illegal in the commission's three disease management areas, where wasting disease is already known to exist, but it's legal everywhere else.
At least one board member isn't so sure that's a problem.
Commissioner Brian Hoover of Delaware County said wasting disease and the use of deer urine have been around for decades, and there's never been shown to be a definitive link between the two. Rather, the spread of disease is most likely something that's happened “on wheels,” as captive deer breeders moved sick animals around the country, he said.
Given that, he's not sure a ban that will hurt an industry and hunters is warranted.
Brown said it's impossible to say with absolute certainty that a urine ban will slow or stop the spread of wasting disease.
“I think it comes down to controlling what you can, and not making it worse,” he said.
Commission president Dave Putnam of Centre County seemed to agree.
“I think there are two issues: what are the risks and what are the possible consequences? And the consequences would be catastrophic,” Putnam said.
Putnam asked Brown to return to the board with a proposed urine ban for its Sept. 28-29 meeting in DuBois, but only after talking to archery hunters — those most likely to use the urines — and the deer farmers who collect and sell it.
Final approval of any ban would occur early next year at the earliest, so there will be time for public input, he added.
No ban need be permanent, Brown said. If deer farmers can develop a disease-free version of deer urine, that could be made legal down the road, Brown said. In the meantime, they could continue selling their existing product in states where urine remains legal for use, he added.
Pennsylvania hunters, Brown said, could use widely available synthetic urine products until then.
Deer feeding
One other thing that's illegal within the confines of disease management areas — but legal everywhere else — is the feeding of deer.
Commissioner Ron Weaner of Adams County asked if it might be time to ban that statewide.
One thing biologists and veterinarians caution about with wasting disease is concentrating deer, something that could lead to them passing disease around faster, he said. That's exactly what feeding does, he said.
“If we ban this statewide, would we accomplish anything?” Weaner asked.
Not necessarily, veterinarian Justin Brown said.
— Bob Frye

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Early Migratory Bird Seasons Set

Dove season to overlap with all of early small-game season.
Pennsylvania’s early migratory bird seasons have been approved, and dove hunters will need to pay particular attention to the dates on which seasons start and end.
Dove-season segments have been restructured this year so that doves may be hunted throughout the early small-game season. But that means dove season will close briefly prior to the start of small-game season, then reopen.
Dove season will open on Tuesday, Sept. 1 and run through Oct. 10. It then will reopen on Oct. 17, which is the first day of the statewide openers for squirrels and ruffed grouse, and run through Nov. 28, which is the closing day for squirrels, grouse, rabbits, pheasants and quail. The final dove season segment runs from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1.
Traditionally, the first segment started and ended in September, and much of October was closed to dove hunting. But for the second consecutive year, under season-setting guidelines adopted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2014, Pennsylvania and other eastern states have been allotted additional dove-hunting days to make for a longer season.
Hunting hours are from noon until sunset from Sept. 1 through Sept. 25. Beginning on Sept. 26, hunting hours during open dove seasons begin at one-half hour before sunrise and end at sunset.
The daily bag limit in each dove-hunting segment has been set at 15, with a possession limit of 45.
The September statewide season for resident Canada geese also will open Sept. 1, and continue through Sept. 25. The September season retains a daily bag limit of eight Canada geese, with a possession limit of 24.
Shooting hours during the September goose season are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset, except when the season overlaps with youth waterfowl hunting days. On those days, shooting hours end at sunset.
There are special regulations – including smaller bag limits and possession limits – in a couple of areas of the state.
In most of the Southern James Bay Population Goose Zone, and on the Pymatuning Reservoir and the area extending 100 yards inland from the shoreline of the reservoir, excluding the area east of state Route 3011 (Hartstown Road), hunters will have a daily limit of three and a possession limit of nine.
Also, in a portion of western Crawford County, the daily bag limit is one goose and possession limit is three geese. That area begins south of state Route 198 from the Ohio state line to intersection of state Route 18, then follows state Route 18 south to state Route 618; follows state Route 618 south to U.S. Route 6; U.S. Route 6 east to U.S. Route 322/state Route 18; U.S. Route 322/state Route 18 west to intersection of state Route 3013; and state Route 3013 south to the Crawford/Mercer County line. The exception to the rules in this area is State Game Lands 214, where September goose hunting is closed. This restriction does not apply to youth participating in the youth waterfowl hunting days, when regular-season regulations apply.
The controlled hunting areas at the Game Commission’s Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lebanon and Lancaster counties, as well as all of State Game Lands 46, will remain closed to September goose hunting to address the decline in the resident Canada goose flock.
And, in the area of Lancaster and Lebanon counties north of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Interstate 76) and east of state Route 501 to state Route 419; south of state Route 419 to Lebanon-Berks county line; west of Lebanon-Berks county line to state Route 1053 (also known as Peartown Road and Greenville Road); and west of state Route 1053 to Pennsylvania Turnpike (Interstate 76), the daily bag limit is one goose, with a possession limit of three geese. This restriction does not apply to youth participating in the youth waterfowl hunting days, when regular season regulations apply.
Kevin Jacobs, a waterfowl biologist with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, noted that liberal Canada goose hunting opportunities, along with control programs used by many municipalities and public and private landowners, have stabilized the state’s resident Canada goose population at nearly 250,000 total spring Canada geese in recent years. This is down nearly 90,000 Canada geese from the peak numbers of nearly 340,000 estimated in 2004 and 2005.  
However, populations remain significantly above the management goal of 150,000.
“Hunting remains the most effective and efficient way to manage resident Canada geese, provided hunters can gain access to geese in problem areas,” Jacobs said.
The first youth waterfowl hunting day will be held statewide on Sept. 19, and the second day will vary by duck-hunting zone and will be announced when late migratory game bird seasons are selected in mid-August.
Youth waterfowl days are open to licensed junior hunters who are 12 to 15 years old. To participate, a youngster must be accompanied by an adult, who may assist the youth in calling, duck identification and other aspects of the hunt. During those hunts, youth can harvest ducks, geese, mergansers, coots and gallinules. Licensed adults can harvest Canada geese on Sept. 19, and on the second youth day if there is a general Canada goose season open in the area being hunted.
On youth waterfowl days occurring when there is a general Canada goose season open, youth and adults have the same daily limit for Canada geese in the area being hunted. On youth waterfowl days occurring when there is not a general Canada goose season open, accompanying adults may not harvest Canada geese, and the bag limit for youth hunters is the same as in the regular season for the area being hunted. Bag limits for ducks, mergansers, coots and gallinules will be consistent with the limit for the regular season, which will be announced in mid-August, after the annual Waterfowl Symposium on Aug. 7. 
Pennsylvania’s woodcock season retains its longer format this year, opening on Oct. 17 and closing on Nov. 28. The daily limit remains three, with a possession limit of nine. 
The season for common snipe also will run from Oct. 17 to Nov. 28, which is the same structure as previous years. The daily limit is 8, and the possession limit is 24.
Virginia and sora rail hunting will run from Sept. 1 to Nov. 9. Bag limits, singly or combined, are three daily and nine in possession. The season for king and clapper rails remains closed.
Hunting for gallinules also runs from Sept. 1 to Nov. 9, and the bag limits are three daily and nine in possession.
Migratory game bird hunters, including those afield for doves and woodcock, are required to obtain and carry a Pennsylvania migratory game bird license ($3.70 for residents, $6.70 for nonresidents), as well as a general hunting, combination or lifetime license. All waterfowl hunters age 16 and older also must possess a federal migratory bird hunting and conservation (duck) stamp.
Hunting hours for all migratory birds close at sunset, except for September Canada geese, as noted above, and the snow goose conservation season.
Annual migratory bird and waterfowl seasons are selected by states from a framework established by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
The “Pennsylvania 2015-16 Guide to Migratory Bird Hunting” brochure will be posted on the Game Commission’s website ( in mid-August.
Hunters are encouraged to report leg-banded migratory game bird recoveries online, or use the toll-free number (1-800-327-BAND). Online reporting is preferred because it provides better data quality and lowers costs. Hunters will be requested to provide information on where, when and what species were taken, in addition to the band number. This information is crucial to the successful management of migratory game birds.