Game Commission Announces Gypsy Moth Spraying Plans
“Those participating in spring gobbler seasons may encounter helicopters or other aircraft spraying State Game Lands or other forested areas,” said
The Game Commission will pay
“In the summer of 2008, a statewide inventory of gypsy moth impacts on SGLs identified defoliation on more than 104,000 acres,” Capouillez said. “To prioritize and focus spraying efforts, we looked at a series of factors, including: the importance of oaks on a particular SGL; socio-political impacts of each SGL; whether there were existing Important Bird Areas, Important Mammal Areas or critical/unique habitats on the SGL; past gypsy moth impacts and resulting forest habitat conditions; and financial values of timber stands.”
From this point, in 2008, the agency identified 42,731 acres in most critical need of treatment to prevent similar defoliation or loss from the expected gypsy moth hatch that year. This year, the agency is focusing on an additional 22,113 acres.
Based on the present data, this year’s spraying will occur in the following regions: Northcentral, 4,159 acres; Southcentral, 2,982 acres; Northeast, 860 acres; and Southeast, 14,112 acres. The Northwest and Southwest regions, which suffered little to no gypsy moth defoliation, are not slated for spraying at this time.
“While the agency has been conducting limited gypsy moth spraying to target high value areas over the past 10 years, we have not had a statewide outbreak of this severity since the late 1990s,” Capouillez said. “From 1984 to 1991, the agency was engaged in a large-scale salvage operation from the last gypsy moth outbreak. In that eight-year period, for example, the Southcentral Region averaged almost 3,000 acres per year of salvage harvests, as opposed to their target goal of 1,200 acres of forest habitat improvements per year today.
“This rate of harvest has had many impacts on the Game Commission’s Forest Management and Wildlife Habitat program, both positive and negative. While the short-term increase in revenue was viewed as a positive, it also was seen as a negative as it will impact long-term timber management and, consequently, future timber revenues, and it helped create inflated expectations about funding the agency through timber revenues.”
Capouillez noted that, more significantly, the previous gypsy moth impacts enabled a rapid transition of forest habitat types on SGL from mixed oak to stands dominated by birch and maple, which are not nearly as beneficial to wildlife as mast-producing oak stands.
“In the 1940s, after the chestnut blight nearly wiped out American chestnuts, which provided the best and most reliable wildlife foods, oaks filled the void for wildlife,” Capouillez said. “Unfortunately, in some areas, we now are seeing birch and maple replace the oak stands lost to gypsy moth defoliation.
“Prior to gypsy moth impacts, oak trees in
Capouillez noted that, based on the value of SGL oaks for wildlife, the agency simply can’t afford not to invest in spraying this year.
“We know that mixed oak habitats are important for all wildlife,” Capouillez said. “Squirrel populations fluctuate with acorn crops. If acorn production is low, bears will den earlier, weigh less, produce fewer and smaller cubs and get into more nuisance situations. Deer over-winter survival and reproduction suffers when acorns are sparse. Neo-tropical birds, such as cerulean warblers, only occupy habitats dominated by oaks. Wild turkey and ruffed grouse populations also depend on acorns.”
Broken down by region, following is a listing of each SGL slated for spraying, the acreage scheduled for spraying and the total acreage of each SGL.
SGL 89, in
SGL 107, in
SGL 170, in
SGL 212, in
SGL 256, in
SGL 258, in
SGL 116, in
SGL 119, in
SGL 207, in
SGL 221, in
SGL 224, in
SGL 46, in
SGL 80, in
SGL 83, in
SGL 145, in
SGL 156, in
SGL 211, in
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Game Commission