Board Elects Delaney President; Board Approves SWG for PA Breeding Bird Atlas; Board Approves Policy Update on Use of Fertility Control Drugs; Board Retains Use of Bait in Southeastern Counties; Board Takes Other Actions
HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Board of Game Commissioners today elected new officers during its annual reorganization for 2010.
Game Commissioner James “Jay” Delaney Jr., of Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, was elected president. First appointed to a full eight-year term on the Board in 2007, Delaney was elected vice-president in 2009. He also was elected to serve as board secretary in 2008.
Game Commissioner Ronald Weaner, of Biglerville, Adams County, was elected vice-president. First appointed to the Board in 2008, Weaner was elected secretary in 2009.
Game Commissioner David W. Schreffler, of Everett, Bedford County, was elected secretary. Schreffler was first appointed to the Board in 2005.
Other Game Commissioners are: Thomas E. Boop, Sunbury, Northumberland County; Gregory J. Isabella, of Philadelphia; David J. Putnam, Centre Hall, Clinton County; Robert Schlemmer, Export, Westmoreland County; and Ralph A. Martone, New Castle, Lawrence County.
Game Commissioners are nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the state Senate to serve an eight-year term. They receive no salary, but are reimbursed for expenses to attend Game Commission quarterly meetings and other functions.
For more information on Board members, visit the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), click on “About Us” in the menu bar in the banner and the click on “Commissioners’ Page.”
BOARD APPROVES SWG FOR PA BREEDING BIRD ATLAS
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave approval to a $100,000 federal State Wildlife Grant to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in support of the Second Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas analysis project.
“After six years and more than 92,000 hours of fieldwork, Pennsylvania birders have completed the most detailed and comprehensive survey of breeding bird distribution and abundance ever completed in the Commonwealth,” said Dan Brauning, Game Commission Non-Game Division chief and editor of the First Breeding Bird Atlas from the 1980s. “This data updates the status of endangered and threatened birds and documents changes of all the state’s more than 190 breeding birds since the first atlas.”
The fieldwork for this project was funded predominantly by previously approved federal SWG grants.
Started in 2000, the Second Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas was the most extensive survey of the state’s nesting birds ever attempted. The grid-based survey tracked the changes that have occurred in bird populations since the first atlas was completed in 1989. Since that time, eagles, ospreys and peregrine falcons have expanded their breeding numbers substantially. The project also sought to chart whether the long-term declines of many songbirds reported in the first atlas continue.
“Although it follows and largely replicates the first atlas, conducted in Pennsylvania from 1983 to 1989, the second atlas also provides new levels of understanding for the state’s bird populations that will help to ensure their conservation now and in the future,” Brauning said. “It has been supported largely with federal State Wildlife Grant funds awarded through the Game Commission, and organized and coordinated by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History through offices at the museum’s Powdermill Nature Reserve.”
The Breeding Bird Atlas, when published, will show changes in the occurrence and distribution of the state’s nesting wild birds and game birds, and promises to provide much additional information about the state’s breeding birds, including their habitat preferences and abundance. The use of technologies, such as global positioning satellites and the internet – unavailable when data for the first Atlas was collected -improved this survey.
BOARD APPROVES POLICY UPDATE ON USE OF FERTILITY CONTROL DRUGS
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave approval to add a statement to the agency’s existing policy manual to promote a clear public expectation as to the Game Commission’ policy relative to the use of fertility control agents with respect to wildlife population control.
The national registration process for mammalian gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH, and the product GonaCon), a fertility control agent intended for use in controlling white-tailed deer in urban and suburban settings, has been completed. This product has been registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a contraceptive agent, and restrictions limit use to USDA APHIS Wildlife Services and state wildlife agency personnel.
“Use in any state jurisdiction will require advance state registration of GonaCon for use in the state, which would be done in Pennsylvania through the Department of Agriculture,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “EPA has issued a health effects statement for this product that essentially says there is no human health concern.
“Given the number of deer-human conflicts in many communities across the Commonwealth and the public interest in improved urban deer control, many citizens and public officials and managers will likely view this new product as a viable option for their deer management issues.”
Roe noted that, should the state Department of Agriculture approve the use of GnRH for use in Pennsylvania, and should a municipality apply to the Game Commission to use GnRH on deer within their boundaries, this policy will establish guidelines for the use. Those guidelines would require that the municipality first exhaust all other options to reduce deer-human conflicts, including lethal and nonlethal means, before the agency would consider approve the use of GnRH.
Additionally, Roe stressed that the municipality would need to provide an approved deer management plan that includes a rigorous research and monitoring component, and the funding for the use of GnRH, as the Game Commission would not provide any funding for the project.
As approved by the Board, the following statement has been added to the agency’s policy manual: “Where safe and appropriate, hunting always is the primary method used to manage wildlife populations in all environments. The Game Commission recognizes that species overabundance in localized or isolated areas is often largely influenced by landscape features and human manipulation of the environment, and these factors may not be easily modified.
“Therefore, when hunting methods are not adequately controlling wildlife populations, the Game Commission considers alternate methods that complement current management efforts including properly approved and registered fertility control agents. Fertility control agents are only to be used in conjunction with hunting and other wildlife management methods because contraception alone cannot reduce wildlife populations to healthy or socially acceptable levels.
“Application of any wildlife fertility control will be based on appropriate science and species population biology. Educational efforts to disseminate information on scientifically sound solutions for reducing problems with overabundant wildlife, including limitations of wildlife fertility control will be made available to the public. If fertility control agents prove to be safe, humane, and effective methods for resolving human-wildlife conflicts associated with overabundant species, the Game Commission may authorize their use.”
BOARD RETAINS USE OF BAIT IN SOUTHEASTERN COUNTIES
The Board of Game Commissioners today took preliminary action to remove the sunset provision placed in regulations that first allowed deer hunters to use bait in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, to increase hunter harvest in these large-developed, high-conflict areas.
In 2006, as recommended in the Game Commission’s Urban/Suburban Deer Management Plan, the Board approved the use of bait. However, before giving the regulation final adoption, the Board included a sunset provision that required a future Board to revisit the issue by March 31, 2010.
“While hunting is the most economical way to manage deer populations, suburban hunters can face many challenges finding access to huntable lands,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “By allowing the use of bait, there is the potential to increase harvest, hunter success and hunter opportunity in developed areas, and thereby provide additional relief to residents in the highly-developed areas of southeastern Pennsylvania.”
If approved by the Board in April, hunters will continue to be permitted to use bait on only private lands. Bait may be placed or distributed two weeks prior to the opening of the first deer season and continue until the deer seasons conclude. Bait accumulation in any one location will not be permitted to exceed five gallons at any given time.
While illegal in other parts of the state, the General Assembly and Governor Rendell, in 2004, approved a change to state law to authorize the Game Commission to permit the use of bait for deer hunters specifically in special regulations areas counties, except for Allegheny County. The law specifically prohibits the use of bait for deer hunters in any other counties.
BOARD TAKES OTHER ACTIONS
In other action today, the Board of Game Commissioners:
- Gave final approval to include the use of crossbows for small game seasons, and make other technical changes to small game season regulations;
- Gave preliminary approval to a regulatory change to exempt lawfully permitted menageries who also possess a USDA Class C Exhibitor permit and who operate their menagerie facilities as their primary means of livelihood from possession and importation prohibitions;
- Gave preliminary approval to regulations to specifically authorize properly permitted individuals to engage in commercial coyote guiding activities on State Game Lands;
- Gave preliminary approval to hunting hours table and migratory game bird hunting hours table for 2010-11;
- Gave preliminary approval to a regulatory change to allow for over-the-counter applications of unsold antlerless deer licenses for all WMUs beginning the first Monday of October, rather than the first Monday of November. Over-the-counter sales of antlerless deer licenses for WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D will continue to be the fourth Monday of August; and
- Announced the rest of the 2010 quarterly meetings of the Board will be held April 19-20, June 28-29 and Oct. 4-5, in the auditorium of the agency’s Harrisburg headquarters, 2001 Elmerton Ave. Also, the January 2011 meeting has been set for Jan. 23, 24 and 25, and will be held at the agency’s Harrisburg headquarters.
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Game Commission