A look around the outdoor world

Posted on: March 2, 2017 | Bob Frye | Comments

An attempt to get more people fishing in Pennsylvania worked, sort of. It sold more licenses but lost revenue.
Bob Frye/Everybody Adventures

What’s going on in the world of the outdoors around the country? Here’s a look…


= Discounting the cost of Pennsylvania fishing licenses over the last three months of 2016 resulted in a slight boost in sales. That’s the good news.

The bad? It also caused a drop in revenue.

Last fall, at the urging of a Penn State University team of instructors and MBA students, the Fish and Boat Commission reduced the price of an annual fishing license by 50 percent for those who bought them between October and December.

The hope was that the reduced price would move a few more licenses “off the shelves” and get people into fishing, said Steve Kralik, director of the commission’s bureau of outreach, education and marketing.

Sales during that three-month period did increase by 630 units, or 7.3 percent, over 2015, he said. Resident licenses sales accounted for most of that.

But it seems as if many of the buyers were previous license buyers who just changed what they bought and when, he added.

“The goal of this was to gain additional license sales. We did,” Kralik said. “It wasn’t enough to break even.”

Commissioners said they’ll look at the idea and see if they want to try it again this fall, perhaps with some additional tweaking.


= Wildlife agencies around the nation continue to struggle with chronic wasting disease.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources recently received laboratory confirmation that six white-tailed deer sampled in Allegany County tested positive for the ailment. All were found within the existing “disease management area.”

Five of the sick deer had been taken by hunters. The other was a road-kill animal.

They bring the number of positive cases in the state to 17 since 2011.

Louisiana wildlife officials say they don’t have wasting disease in their wild deer. They want to keep it that way.

So, as of March 1, it’s now illegal to bring into the state any deer parts except “for meat that is cut and wrapped; meat that has been boned out; quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached, antlers, clean skull plates with antlers, cleaned skulls without tissue attached, capes, tanned hides, finished taxidermy mounts and cleaned cervid teeth.”

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, the spread of wasting disease is behind a call for action.

The National Deer Alliance has asked the Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor to do “an immediate investigation” of that state’s Board of Animal Heath.

The board has responsibility for overseeing the state’s 460 deer and elk farms. The Alliance is concerned it’s not being vigilant enough. Specifically, the Alliance is concerned the board is too cozy with deer farmers – including those confirmed to have CWD in their animals and others who have lost animals that were never recovered– and thereby threatening the state’s wild deer herd.

“Every precaution should be taken to protect the wild deer resource, and it’s troubling when you see those responsible for regulating CWD imply otherwise,” said Alliance president Nick Pinizzotto.


= The Pennsylvania Game Commission has asked Gov. Tom Wolf for permission to take enough money out of its reserve account to train a new class of wildlife conservation officers.

Applications are being accepted now through April 1, or until 600 applications are received, whichever occurs first. Pending approval from the governor’s office, the class will report for training in March 2018 and graduate in March 2019.

The agency is seeking up to 35 qualified candidates. Applications will only be accepted online www.scsc.pa.gov.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is likewise short officers. Might it seek approval to spend reserve funds to train some?

Not if its executive director has his way.

In response to a question from Keith Gillespie of York County, the Republican majority chairman of the House of Representatives game and fisheries committee, director John Arway said he opposes the idea of using reserve funds to train new waterways conservation officers.

The agency is short field staff, Arway admitted. And his board of commissioners hasa debated the idea of using reserve funds to solve that.

But it costs about $1.5 million to train 20 new officers, and about $2 million to employ them every year after graduation, he said. Arway said the commission doesn’t have that on an annual basis, and won’t unless lawmakers raise fishing licenses fees.

“We’re going to go poorer sooner if we would do that without any certainty of a (license fee) increase,” he said.


= Coyotes have proven remarkably adaptable, capable of living amongst people. Research has shown they’re thriving within the city limits of in Chicago, for example.

Clearly, people now have to adapt to them.

Michigan Department of Natural resources officials have some tips on how to do that. It recommends removing food sources – including everything from trash cans to pet food – for starters. Yelling, clapping and chasing off a coyote that does appear is also recommended.

If that fails, the department suggests asking trappers for help in season and turning to licensed nuisance control companies when they aren’t.

A department video on living with coyotes can be found here.


= What’s in a name?

A lot, according to the Pennsylvania Trappers Association. It wants a change to reflect that.

Right now, said association president Brian Mohn of Hamburg, when someone gets convicted of violating a hunting regulation or law, they go from being called a “hunter” to a “poacher.”

An unethical trapper, though, is always labeled a trapper, the same as the vast majority of people who obey the rules, he said.

The association would like to see lawmakers adopt legislation that would set higher penalties for people found guilty of breaking trapping rules. That, the group believes, would help differentiate in the public’s eyes those who operate legally and those who don’t.


= Speaking of trappers, a U.S. District Court judge in Maine recently rejected a lawsuit brought by animal rights groups that centered around the incidental take of lynx.

A number of animal rights groups sued, arguing that trappers should be held liable any time a lynx was accidentally caught in one of their traps. The Maine Department of Inland Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Sportsmen’s Alliance argued against the idea.

Bob Frye is the everybodyadventures.com editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or bfrye@535mediallc.com. See other stories, blogs, videos and more at everybodyadventures.com.

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