Legislation that would limit executive directors of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to serving eight years is before lawmakers.
Photo: PA Fish and Boat Commission
Legislation that would force Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission executive director to retire in March – whether he wanted to or not – may have gone as far as it’s going to go.
Senate Bill 935 is sponsored by Sen. Joe Scarnati, the Potter County Republican who is the top ranking member of the legislature. It would limit the agency’s executive director – whoever that might be — to eight years in office.
It passed the Senate in record speed last month. Approved in committee on Oct. 19, it passed the full Senate – albeit by a 34-16 vote along party lines — by Oct. 25.
There’s not much time for it to get through the House of Representatives, though.
The House has just 10 more days left, only nine of them voting days.
There may not be interest in moving the bill anyway.
Rep. Keith Gillespie, the York County Republican who serves as chairman of the game and fisheries committee, said he’ll poll the members of that committee before deciding whether to bring it to a vote.
“I’m not going to hold it up. But I’m not going to do anything with it until I talk to the members of my committee, on both sides of the aisle, and see what they think.”
John Kline, the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs’ representative at the Capital, doesn’t sense a lot of enthusiasm for the bill.
“I don’t see it getting through,” Kline said. “It does have a chance, so you never know. But if I were to gamble on it, I would probably say no.”
The bill, of course, targeted Arway specifically all along.
Commissioners gave him the authority to cut $2 million from the agency budget by July 1 if lawmakers didn’t first increase fishing license prices. They haven’t done that since 2004.
Arway said he’d do it by closing the Oswayo trout hatchery – in Potter County – and reduce trout stocking by 240,000 fish. Streams and lakes taken off the stocking lsit as a result were to be located in three areas of the state.
All coincided with the districts of lawmakers opposed to raising lciense fees.
That drew the ire of Scarnati, among others.
Recently, Pennsylvania Game Commission officials said lead poisoning is killing eagles across the state.
The metal is a problem elsewhere for another species, too, it seems.
According to a story by The Wildlife Society, the professional association for the nation’s wildlife biologists, a new study says lead fishing tackle is responsible for nearly half the deaths of adult loons in New Hampshire.
The study says lead has reduced loon populations there by 43 percent.
Tiffany Grade, a biologist with the Loon Preservation Committee and lead author on the study, said 48.6 percent of loon deaths studied between 1989 and 2012 were attributable to birds ingesting lead tackle, mostly jigs and sinkers.
The result was a 1.4 percent drop in the population growth rate of loons, a state-listed threatened species in New Hampshire.
Based in part on that research, new state regulations went into effect in 2016 banning most lead tackle.
That may not be enough, she added.
“Loons are the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “I can only imagine how many other species are suffering the effects of lead in the environment.”
Tree stand fall
Maybe a high profile incident like this will get some hunters’ attention.
Tree stand manufacturers, hunting organizations, state wildlife agencies and others have been preaching the need for hunters to wear a safety harness any time they go up a tree. Increasing numbers of those who don’t are suffering injuries and even dieing from falls.
Yet, some hunters still don’t take precautions.
One, apparently, is a Major League baseball manager.
According to a story on Yahoo Sports, Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost was fixing a deer stand on his property in Georgia when he fell. He shattered his pelvis and broke several ribs.
Doctors, the story reports, told Yost he was lucky to be alive.
As it is, he’s expected to be in a wheelchair for two months.
Here’s a first.
The Game Commission has a number of public rifle and pistol shooting ranges on state game lands around the state. Now it’s got its first archery range.
Reacting to the growing popularity of archery, the commission built the range on game land 234 in Montgomery County. It opened recently.
Construction was funded using federal money.
The range offers shooting at 10, 20, 30, and 40 yards. Each has 4-by-4-foot targets designed for field point use.
There is also a sand pit located at 20 yards for practice with broadheads. The entire range is ADA accessible.
Canine distemper virus is infecting raccoons in Allegheny County.
According to the Game Commission, it and the Allegheny County Health Department confirmed the presence of the disease five “strange-acting” raccoons in Ross Township.
Symptom-wise, canine distemper can appear similar to rabies, said commission veterinarian Justin Brown.
Yet none of the animals tested had rabies,.
Canine distemper virus does not affect people. Still, authorities are warning people to get pets vaccinated.