From the Field

Connecting YOU with Wildlife – Pennsylvania Game Commission


We want to hear from you!

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Seeking Input

‘The Pennsylvania Game Commission and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) are seeking public input through Sept. 11 on the draft 2015-2025 Pennsylvania Wildlife Action Plan. The draft plan and comment forms can be found at: http://fishandboat.com/swap2015.htm. Questions can be directed to the Game Commission at WildlifePlanCmnts@pa.gov or to the Fish and Boat Commission at RA-FBSWAP@pa.gov. Use “SWAP” in the subject line.

Purpose of Pennsylvania Wildlife Action Plan

The purpose of the Pennsylvania Wildlife Action Plan is “to conserve Pennsylvania’s native wildlife, maintain viable habitat, and protect and enhance Species of Greatest Conservation Need.” First developed in 2005, the plan has been the Commonwealth’s blueprint for managing and protecting imperiled species. As required by Congress, State Wildlife Action Plans must be revised no less than every 10 years. For the past 10 years the Pennsylvania Wildlife Action Plan and associated funding from State and Tribal Wildlife Grants have been crucial for protecting and recovering imperiled species and their habitats.

“State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAP) are designed to help keep our common native species from becoming more rare,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “For rare species already listed as threatened or endangered, the plan is a framework to assist with their recovery. The SWAP is a unique opportunity to plan how we can work together to protect, conserve and enhance not only our diverse fish and wildlife resources but also the habitats that allow them to continue to live and survive on our Commonwealth’s lands and in our waters.”

“Pennsylvania’s Wildlife Action Plan is a commitment to maintaining the Commonwealth’s vast diversity of native wildlife, something we are bound to preserve in accordance with our state constitution,” added Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough. “It isn’t enough to say we will. We are bound by our constitutional promise to generations yet to come and our conservation ethic to manage all of the state’s natural resources wisely. This plan helps us do that, and it ensures our efforts will be in step with the federal government and other states.”

Bringing together conservation agencies and organizations from across the Commonwealth, for nearly three years  the Game Commission, Fish and Boat Commission, and their partners have compiled and analyzed information related to species, habitats, threats, conservation actions to address the threats, and monitoring of these species and habitats. The revised draft plan has identified 664 species including 90 birds, 19 mammals, 18 amphibians, 22 reptiles, 65 fishes and 450 invertebrates that require attention.

A State Wildlife Action Plan approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is required for states to receive State & Tribal Wildlife Grant Program funds. The Pennsylvania Wildlife Action Plan is scheduled to be delivered to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by Sept. 30, 2015.


Keep the Wild In Wildlife

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Fawn Photo: Joe Kosack

It’s undeniable – baby animals are adorable. And fawns top the list.  It’s understandable why people might think that raising a fawn or any wild animal as a pet is a tempting and exciting idea. It’s also undeniable that this is a very bad idea.  Like Hugo, Looney Tune’s abominable snowman, whose well-meaning love was thrust upon Daffy Duck, people must understand that wild animals are not pet material.

When wild animals grow up, they can become dangerous and very unpredictable. Stories about wild animals that have been kept as pets (including deer, even does) attacking and injuring people are frequently in the news.

Wild animals have evolved as independent, free-living beings. They have needs, instincts and behaviors that are inseparably tied both to their appropriate habitat, and to a free-living state. No matter how well designed a captive habitat may be, it can never replicate the freedom that wild animals seek. Wild animals belong in the wild.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission does not encourage or regulate captive deer.  As an alternative, people should consider adopting one of the millions of domestic shelter pets that need a home.

 J.T. Fleegle

Pennsylvania Game Commission

Wildlife Biologist, Deer & Elk Management Section


On the Trail of Pennsylvania Black Bears

For #ThrowbackThursday we are showcasing the 1991 black bear film that was seen by many Pennsylvania students, teachers and others on VHS tapes.

“On the Trail of Pennsylvania Black Bears” can now be viewed online. It features footage of black bear

-research

-management

-reproduction

-newborn  cubs

-tracks

-habits

-relocations

*Some of the information from this video is now outdated. For current information on black bears visit: http://ow.ly/Pp7r0


Pennsylvania Reports Record Number of Bald-Eagle Nests

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Pennsylvania Game Commission Hal Korber

Mid-year Survey Documents 277 Nests Statewide

Active Pennsylvania bald-eagle nests are at an all-time high according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s preliminary numbers from its mid-year nest report. So far this year, 277 bald-eagle nests have been documented in Pennsylvania, with nesting eagles present in at least 58 of the state’s 67 counties. That shatters the 2014 preliminary number of 254 nests, which also was an all-time high. And more nests remain to be counted as the year goes on.

Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough spoke with excitement about the record numbers. “Like many Pennsylvanians, I remember a time when bald eagles were absent just about everywhere in the state, and it truly is astonishing how things have turned around,” Hough said. “Through our reintroduction program, our protection of eagles and effective management, we’ve gone from three nests statewide to what soon could be 300, all within the span of my career with the Game Commission. “It’s an accomplishment of which all Pennsylvanians can be proud,” Hough said.

20 New Nests

Of the nests reported so far this year, 20 are new, which could mean they were built and used for the first time this year or, if they existed previously, they were reported for the first time this year.  The Game Commission urges all eagle nests be reported. Even if nests were reported in a previous year, it’s important to report them again if they were used again this year, said Patti Barber, a biologist with the Game Commission’s Endangered and Nongame Birds section. People who have reported a nest as active in a previous year might not realize they should report back each year to help the Game Commission track the population over time, Barber said. It’s one of the challenges of documenting bald-eagle nests as the population of eagles continues to grow. Also, folks might assume bald eagles they’re seeing are associated with long-established nests, as opposed to new pairs setting up territories near established nests, Barber said.

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Pennsylvania Game Commission Hal Korber

Report Bald-Eagle Nests

Reports of bald-eagle nests always are appreciated. Perhaps the easiest way to report a nest is to contact the Game Commission through its public comments email address: pgccomments@pa.gov, and use the words “Eagle Nest Information” in the subject field. Reports also can be phoned in to a Game Commission Region Office or the Harrisburg headquarters.“Even if nests are well known locally, please don’t hesitate to report them,” Barber said. “You might be adding a new nest to the list, or making certain that one reported in a previous year is accurately counted this year.”

Each year, bald-eagle nests continue to be reported as the year goes on. In 2014, for instance, the preliminary number of 254 nests ballooned to 273 nests by year’s end. Other years have produced similar results. But the mid-year numbers are an accomplishment in their own right, Barber said. In 1983, when the Game Commission launched a seven-year reintroduction program, only three bald-eagle pairs were nesting statewide. Today, there are 277 with more remaining to be counted.

Public Support

“We so often refer to the story of the bald eagle as one of the greatest wildlife success stories out there, but it just keeps getting better all the time,” Barber said. “People are fascinated with eagles, and their chances to see them and watch them are better now than they’ve ever been.”

Hough said the nearly 1.4 million people who viewed the Game Commission’s Eagle Cam online this year illustrate the connection people have with bald eagles. And that connection is an important part of the bald eagle’s success, he said. “Without people who care, we wouldn’t have nearly the number of bald eagles we have in Pennsylvania today, and we probably wouldn’t have them at all,” Hough said. “When bald-eagles were in decline, it was people who led the way for their recovery. We joined to clean up the environment, entrusted wildlife agencies like the Game Commission to jumpstart restoration of eagle populations, and placed priority on protecting eagles to give them a chance to take hold. “The rest we left up to the eagles, and they continue to prove they’ll continue to be here for more and more Pennsylvanians to enjoy,” Hough said.

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Pennsylvania Game Commission Eagle Cam Screen Capture

 Eagle Cam to Go Offline

For the second straight year, the Pennsylvania Game Commission livestreamed video from a bald-eagle nest, giving visitors to the agency’s website an opportunity to see eagles up close through their nesting cycle. The nest was successful, with the adults hatching two eggs, and both chicks growing large enough to fledge in June. The Eagle Cam is slated to go offline sometime on July 3. The Game Commission would like to thank the more than 1.4 million people worldwide who watched the livestream from the nest near Hanover.

 

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