HARRISBURG, PA (October 4, 2018)(CNBNewsnet)--As the statewide deer seasons kick off, hunters will have their first opportunity to recover big game they’ve shot by tracking the animal’s escape trail with a leashed dog.
Gov. Tom Wolf earlier this year signed into law a bill that allows for the use of leashed tracking dogs to recover big game that cannot be recovered by hunters.
The legislation, sponsored by state Sen. Mario M. Scavello, provides another choice for hunters who have shot and inflicted injury on a white-tailed deer, black bear or elk, but lose the trail.
“This law will provide greater recovery of big game shot by hunters,” noted Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “Trailing big game can require specialized tracking skills, especially after nightfall. And if it’s a warmer night, or rain is approaching, every minute matters. Within a few hours, downed big game might spoil.”
Scavello’s bill recognized and championed the need for properly trained and controlled tracking dogs.
This simple and humane change in law is of great benefit to both our hunting community and some of Pennsylvania’s most-valued natural resources, white-tailed deer, black bears and elk, Scavello said.
Big-game hunters may use tracking dogs to recover big game in the 2018-19 seasons. Dogs cannot be used to locate big game unless an animal has been shot.
It’s important to remember that the new leashed tracking dog language to the Game and Wildlife Code really doesn’t change how hunters can track wounded big game, said Randy Shoup, Bureau of Wildlife Protection director. The only difference is the tracking dog.
During hunting hours, big game can be tracked with a sporting arm, which can be possessed only by the hunter. After hunting hours close, a sporting arm cannot be used to dispatch downed big game. This includes Sundays and the day after season closes.
In addition, hunters tracking big game after hours, or on Sundays are asked to contact the Game Commission region office serving the county where the animal will be tracked, to alert the local state game warden of the recovery effort. It’s possible the game warden might accompany the tracker.
During tracking, the hunter and the tracker (dog owner) must be licensed for the big game being tracked and meet the season’s florescent orange requirements. In addition, the longstanding expectation for hunters, and now trackers, to respect private property boundaries remains in place.
Trackers do not register with and are not certified or licensed by the Game Commission. Trackers might charge for their services, but the Game Commission will not resolve differences between trackers and hunters. Commercial activity on state game lands is prohibited so tracking dog owners cannot charge for their services there.
STATEWIDE ARCHERY SEASON BEGAN SEPT. 29
Pennsylvania’s statewide archery deer season began Saturday, Sept. 29, and its return prompted the Pennsylvania Game Commission to issue some helpful reminders.
Archers statewide can hunt for antlered or antlerless deer from Sept. 29 to Nov. 12, and during the late archery deer season, which runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 12.
The statewide season was moved to end on a Monday this year so it could include the Veterans Day holiday.
At the time of the statewide opener, archery hunters in three urbanized areas of the state will have had a two-week head start to their seasons. An early season for antlered and antlerless deer in Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5C and 5D kicked off on Sept. 15 and ends Nov. 24.
Properly licensed bowhunters in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D also may take antlered and antlerless deer during an extended late archery season, which runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 26.
Archery hunters may use long, recurve or compound bows, or crossbows. Bows must have a draw weight of at least 35 pounds; crossbows must have a minimum draw weight of 125 pounds.
The Game Commission encourages hunters to spend as much time as possible afield this fall prior to and during the hunting seasons to pattern deer movements and identify areas where fall foods are abundant. Food availability changes from year to year, and in areas where food is spotty, deer move to find it. Hotspots change from one year to the next, even from early to later weeks of the season, so tracking deer activity and their keying on food sources is important to success.
Bowhunters are urged to take only responsible shots at deer to ensure a quick, clean kill. Archery and crossbow hunters should take only broadside or quartering away shots at deer within their maximum effective shooting range – the farthest distance from which a hunter can consistently place arrows or bolts into a pie pan-sized target.
Hunters may use illuminated nocks for arrows and bolts; they aid in tracking or locating the arrow or bolt after being launched. However, transmitter-tracking arrows are illegal.
Tree stands and climbing devices that cause damage to trees are unlawful to use or occupy unless the user has written permission from the landowner. Tree stands – or tree steps – penetrating a tree’s cambium layer cause damage, and it is unlawful to build or occupy tree stands screwed or nailed to trees on state game lands, state forests or state parks.
Hunters are reminded portable hunting tree stands and blinds are not permitted on state game lands until two weeks before the opening of the archery deer season, and they must be removed no later than two weeks after the close of the flintlock and late archery deer seasons in the WMU being hunted.
Tree stands placed on state game lands also must be conspicuously marked with a durable identification tag that identifies the stand owner. Tags may include the owner’s name and address, the CID number that appears on the owner’s hunting license, or a unique identification number issued by the Game Commission. Identification numbers can be obtained at The Outdoor Shop on the Game Commission’s website. Click here to continue reading.
FEDS SUPPORT PROJECT TO TRACK SPECIES IN DECLINE
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to support a proposal for further expansion of the Motus Wildlife Tracking System in Pennsylvania and four other states to monitor eight migratory species of greatest conservation and other wildlife.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission will lead a team involving the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Northeast Motus Collaboration and other partnering organizations to collect life-cycle information of seven migratory birds and one bat that have been in serious declines for at least years, and in some cases, decades.
The Northeast Motus Collaboration is a partnership of the Willistown Conservation Trust, Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art, Project Owlnet and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Powdermill Nature Reserve. The collaboration is housed under the Motus Wildlife Tracking System, established in 2013 by Bird Studies Canada. The network currently tracks wildlife from more than 500 stations around the world.
The USFWS is providing $497,929 to help underwrite this wildlife surveillance, which tracks migrating animals with nanotags – radio transmitters so small, they can be fitted to monarch butterflies. Collaboration member organizations and others are providing more than $225,000 to meet federal matching funding requirements.
The Pennsylvania species being targeted by this fieldwork are Swainson’s thrush, wood thrush, blackpoll warblers, Canada warblers, rusty blackbirds, American woodcock and northern long-eared bats. Other priority species, such as New England’s Bicknell’s thrush, also are targeted by this research.
“This project embodies contemporary wildlife conservation: state and federal government agencies working with private conservation organizations and universities to help species that demand more attention than traditional wildlife management can provide,” explained Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “The agency is indebted to partner organizations, such as the Willistown Conservation Trust and the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art, for their commitment to wildlife. Today, conservation counts on partners more than ever before.”
Nanotags are the innovation that makes this research possible. They weigh as little as one-eighth the weight of a penny and can accomplish what much heavier telemetry gear couldn’t do as recently as 10 years ago. Almost overnight they have helped strengthen the science used in wildlife conservation.
Nanotags transmit a signal that can reach out about 10 miles. This project aims to provide more receiver stations to collect those nanotag transmissions. Currently, there are more than 40 in Pennsylvania. The expectation is that about 12 more receiving stations would be added under this proposal.
“Pennsylvania already is well equipped with receiving stations in western and southern counties,” explained Dan Brauning, who supervises the Game Commission’s Wildlife Diversity Division. “Clusters of new receiver stations will be established on the Pocono Plateau, as well as across the northern tier, and along the Kittatinny Ridge/South Mountain system.”
But this proposal covers more than Pennsylvania. It will work to establish more receiving stations in four other states: New York, Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware.
Receiver stations already are collecting information that has been pondered by ornithologists and bat biologists since the dawn of American wildlife conservation. Soon, they will know more about the specifics of migration than ever before. Click here to continue reading.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM COMMISSIONERS MEETING
On Sept. 25, the Board of Game Commissioners took preliminary action to update the state’s list of threatened and endangered species, which includes downgrading three protected cave bat species and reclassifying them as state endangered species.
The three bat species, all of which have been decimated by white-nose syndrome since it appeared in Pennsylvania in 2008, are the northern long-eared bat, tri-colored bat and little brown bat.
Additionally, the board voted preliminarily to upgrade the peregrine falcon’s status from endangered to threatened; upgrade the piping plover from extirpated to endangered, and list the red knot – a federally threatened species – as a threatened species within Pennsylvania, as well.
The northern long-eared bat was listed as a federal threatened species in April 2015. In addition, tri-colored bats and little brown bats currently are being considered for protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
A state listing allows for the Game Commission to work with industry that might have projects affected by the presence of endangered or threatened species. While projects will continue to be reviewed by the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory (PNDI), regarding bats, the proposal would affect projects only if they’re within 300 meters of a recent maternity roost, hibernacula or capture location for threatened or endangered bats. Sites that held these bats prior to the arrival of white-nose syndrome, but not since, won’t affect projects.
If the preliminarily approved measure is adopted, only 34 new hibernation sites and 112 maternity sites statewide would be added into the PNDI.
Through a state-endangered listing, the Game Commission will coordinate with developers to resolve conflicts, pointed out Dan Brauning, Game Commission Wildlife Diversity Division Chief. For little brown and tri-colored bats, the Game Commission will be the lead agency in determining potential impacts. However, for northern long-eared bats, coordination by both the Game Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be necessary.
“These cave bats teeter on the brink of state extirpation; extinction is not yet out of the question,” Brauning noted. “Their need for additional protections is obvious and overdue. For the Game Commission to do anything less would be recklessly irresponsible.”
The Game Commission had moved to list these bats in 2012, but concerns about unnecessary oversight and job loss heard from representatives of timber, oil, coal and gas industries and legislators prompted additional discussion.
“The Game Commission strives to work whenever possible with industry, to save jobs, and be a part of sound state government,” emphasized agency Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “But we cannot look the other way as bats tumble toward extinction. This agency has statutory and state constitutional commitments to represent and conserve all wildlife for today and tomorrow.”
Because bats have lost upward of 97 percent of their historic populations in Pennsylvania, every remaining bat matters, Brauning said.
What works against these cave bats is their annual reproduction provides limited replacement. Most female cave bats have one pup per year, a rate that would place their potential recovery more than a century away.
There’s no doubt a state-endangered listing of these cave bat species will require the implementation of additional protective measures. But given the mammoth collapse of these winged mammals, there’s no doubt they need more help; the sooner, the better.
But some of the proposals for status change represent better news.
The peregrine falcon has seen a steady statewide recovery, which qualifies its status to be upgraded to threatened under the agency’s Peregrine Falcon Management Plan.
Upgrading the piping plover’s status to endangered recognizes its return to breeding in Pennsylvania. After more than 60 years of absence, piping plover pairs successfully nested at Presque Isle State Park in 2017 and 2018.
And changing the status of the red knot – a rare migrant bird found in Pennsylvania mostly at Presque Isle State Park – recognizes its vulnerability to further declines.
The status changes will be brought back to the January meeting for a final vote. Click here to keep reading.
source Pennsylvania Game Commission