Poaching is a persistent problem. This is a buck that was shot illegally in Beaver County sometime Oct. 21or 22 and dumped along Crows Run Road in Conway. It’s antlers were removed; otherwise, it was left to rot. Anyone with information in the shooting is asked to call 1-888-PGC-8001.
Illegally shooting an osprey in the future is likely going to be an expensive proposition.
Pennsylvania Game Commissioners, at their most recent meeting, gave preliminary approval to removing the species from the state’s threatened species list. As part of that, they also gave preliminary approval to a measure that calls for charging anyone who kills an osprey illegally with $2,500 in replacement costs.
Typically, the replacement cost for a bird considered “secure” is only $200.
That won’t keep every potential poacher from pulling the trigger, though, warned Tom Grohol, chief of the commission’s bureau of wildlife protection.
Poachers these days take game illegally for different reasons than in the past, he said.
There was a time when most poaching or illegal taking of wildlife was done – or at least perceived to be done –out of necessity, for food, said.
“Today poaching is more about greed,” Grohol said.
There’s a lot of “social poaching” going on, he said. Those are cases where someone shoots a deer or other trophy simply for bragging rights.
Trade in wildlife parts has also grown, he said. People seem more willing to commit crimes of opportunity than in years past, too, he added.
It’s a significant problem, he said.
“Every year thousands of poachers are arrested nationwide. However it is estimated that fewer than 5 percent are ever caught,” Grohol said.
It’s a tiny force looking for violators he added. He put the number of conservation law enforcement officers nationwide at fewer than 8,000.
“It’s a big task for a small number of people,” he said.
Still, in 2014-15, Grohol said commission officers successfully prosecuted a record 1,542 cases and collected $1.6 million in fines and costs.
The drought conditions that have existed across much of the state this year are causing farmers problems. So, too, apparently is wildlife.
Jeff Grove, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, told Game Commissioners at their recent meeting that crop yields in many places will be lower than usual because of the weather. Wildlife issues “only exacerbate those problems,” he added.
The bureau is trying to get word out to farmers about programs that allow them to have hunters take deer, he said. Some don’t realize the options they have, he admitted.
But he also suggested some of the programs are perhaps too complicated or restrictive.
The commission’s “red tag” program, for instance, allows hunters to take antlerless deer in early and late spring, outside of the traditional hunting seasons. To participate, though, farmers must be enrolled in one of the commission’s public access programs for at least two years first.
The commission may address that, said board member Dave Putnam of Centre County.
The 10-member Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission board now has two vacancies, following the abrupt resignation of its president.
Glade Squires, a Duquesne native now living in Chester County, took over as board president on July 12. He submitted his resignation to Gov.Tom Wolf on Oct. 24.
A news release put out by the commission did not say why he chose to leave. Squires didn’t elaborate either.
“I have no comment on my resignation as commissioner. All I can tell you is that my letter to the Governor just stated that I’m resigning and that it has been an honor and a privilege to serve the commonwealth as a commissioner,” Squires said Friday morning.
Rocco Ali of North Apollo takes over as board president.
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources officials recently dedicated the “French Creek Phase” of the Big Woods Trail near the Berks-Chester county line.
It’s a pathway linking other hiking and biking routes.
Why’s that significant?
The department has embarked on a new effort to put a hiking trail within 15 minutes of every Pennsylvanian. It’s attempting to do that by focusing on closing trail gaps. It has data for 248 priority trail gaps, but believes “more out there.”
The Coldwater Heritage Partnership is accepting grant applications from groups looking to “protect and conserve the health of Pennsylvania’s coldwater ecosystems.”
Planning grants of up to $5,000 are available, as are implementation grant of up to $7,000.
Applications are due by Dec. 16. Forms can be found here.