Bears and ducks, Gander Mountain and other outdoors news

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

Black bears have taken a liking to the Game Commission’s waterfowl nesting boxes.
Courtesy photo

Black bears are causing problems for, of all things, Pennsylvania’s waterfowl hunters.

That’s the case in the northwest corner of the state anyway.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission erects and maintains mallard nesting platforms, wood duck nesting boxes, goose habitat structures and more on state game lands. It’s done that for years.

Now, though, the region’s growing black bear population are raiding them.

Bears destroyed 37 boxes on game lands 69 and 122 in Crawford and Erie counties last year, said George Miller, regional land management supervisor for the commission.

“For some reason, these bears are finding these boxes and associating them with a free meal,” Miller said.

The problem is new. Bears have long raided bluebird nesting boxes and similar structures on game lands elsewhere, Miller said. But bears damaging waterfowl boxes in the northwest is something more recent.

The reason is obvious.

“We never had bears before,” said Jerry Bish, land manager in charge of the Pymatuning wildlife management area.

Even when they don’t kill birds, bears do a lot of damage, Bish added. This winter, they tore down 27 wood duck nest boxes after walking to them on lake ice.

“Now, that doesn’t sound like maybe much. But if you have to go out and reconstruct 27 wood duck boxes on the ice or in a boat, that’s significant,” he said.

It’s significant enough, in fact, that the commission – strapped for money and manpower – won’t replace them any time soon, Bish said.

“I’m sorry, but we’re not going to re-erect those boxes for a few years. I don’t have the time or the money to do that,” he said.

“That’s probably the way it’s going to be for a while.”

Gander Mountain

The nation’s largest dealer of recreational vehicles is buying Gander Mountain.

According to this story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Camping World Holdings Inc. and a group of liquidators won a bankruptcy auction for St. Paul-based outdoor retailer.

The newspaper reported the value of the winning bid at about $390 million.

Sources told the newspaper the Camping World-led group bested a going-concern bid for Gander Mountain from rival Sportsman’s Warehouse Holdings Inc.

The Star-Tribune further noted that “Camping World, which is run by Marcus Lemonis, a star on CNBC TV’s reality show ‘The Profit,’ plans to operate at least 17 Gander Mountain stores as a going concern. An auction for Gander Mountain’s remaining more than 100 leases will be conducted later.”

The consortium also won all of Gander Mountain’s intellectual property and its Overton’s boating business.

On board

The Keystone Trails Association represents Pennsylvania’s organized hikers. It’s on the opposite side of the fence from the Game Commission when it comes to whether Sunday hunting should be legalized.

It doesn’t want it, as it will say at a rally at the state Capital in June.

But it’s supporting the agency another way.

The group’s board of directors is supporting passage of Senate Bill 192, which would allow the commission to set its own license prices. Right now, only state lawmakers have that power.

The group sent a letter to lawmakers expressing its opinion.

“Many of the trails we use and maintain are on state game lands,” the letter reads. “Wildlife protection, healthy habitats and conservation are supported by hunters and non-hunters alike. The PGC’s mission of managing 480 species of wild birds and wild mammals, and their habitats for current and future generations is one that the hiking community embraces and considers very important.”

Guns and yearbooks

A Minnesota high school trap shooting team won a battle with its own school board over its team picture.

According to KSTP, the ABC television affiliate in St. Paul, Big Lake School District initially told the members of its high school trap shooting team that its team photo couldn’t appear in the yearbook because team members were pictured holding shotguns.

That, district officials said, violated school policy.

According to the TV station, there was an outcry of protest from students, parents and others.

In the end, the school board relented. It adopted a new policy.

Photos and artwork that violate school policy, display firearms, weapons, drugs, alcohol, inappropriate gestures or poses, and revealing or obscene clothing may be edited or excluded without permission or notification, it reads.

But “exception given to our school-sponsored trap-shooting team which will be allowed to have team pictures in the yearbook, team poster displayed in the school, and any approved photos taken by yearbook staff. These photos would include their firearms.”

Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

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