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Game Commission deals with Internet hoax

Pennsylvania Game Commission officials in two different parts of the state have been dealing with the same Internet hoax.

Early last week, an e-mail started making the rounds showing a dead mountain lion in the back of a pickup truck. The e-mail claimed that the cat -- which weighed 190 pounds -- had been hit by a vehicle along Route 66 near Beaver Run Reservoir, in northern Allegheny County.

By the end of the week, a new e-mail -- featuring the same photo -- was going around. Only this time, the cat was supposedly a 160-pounder that had been killed by hunters out chasing coyotes in Boyers, Butler County.

Game Commission officers were supposed to have confiscated the lion in that case, too.

Neither situation is true, it turns out.

Tom Fazi, information and education supervisor in the Game Commission's southwest region office in Bolivar, said his office did receive calls and questions about the supposed mountain lion. But there's no truth to the idea the cat was killed anywhere locally, he said.

"It just looks like another of those Internet hoaxes," Fazi said. "We haven't been able to track down where it started, but we don't know anything about a mountain lion being killed anywhere around here."

Regis Senko, Fazi's counterpart in the northwest region office in Franklin, said he's aware of the same stories but said they're all rumor. In fact, the same photo has been attributed to a mountain lion killed near Polk, too.

The photo shows two dog boxes in the back of the pickup truck, so Fazi said he suspects the cat was killed legally somewhere -- likely out west -- by hunters using dogs.

Fantasy fishing

The sour economy has hurt the competitive fishing industry in the past year in a noticeable way.

Pro bass anglers have seen sponsors come and go, and the number of tournaments has been scaled back in cases. Now, "fantasy" fishermen are feeling the pinch, too.

Consider that last year, when Terry Moberly, a Kentucky auto plant worker, won FLW Outdoors' Fantasy Fishing league last year in Pittsburgh, he collected a $1 million top prize.

The winner of this year's league will get considerably less.

FLW recently announced that this year's top prize will be worth $50,000.

"We would have liked to offer the same insane prizes as in the past, but it just wasn't feasible. In case you haven't been paying attention, the last year has been a trying one in the fishing and boating industry," reads a statement at www.fantasyfishing.com .

The contest is continuing, however, and cash prizes will be awarded through 15th place. The game remains free to play, too.

The 2010 season got under way Jan. 25. Players must be registered at FantasyFishing.com and have their teams selected prior to the first tournament of the FLW Tour that begins Feb. 10.

Expulsion lifted

After an outcry from sportsmen's groups and others, a California high school has lifted the expulsion of a 17-year-old student who had a shotgun in his truck.

Gary Tudesko and a friend went duck hunting one morning last October. He then went straight to school. He parked his truck -- off campus, on a public street -- with their two shotguns still inside.

A short while later, school officials used a sniffing dog to find the guns. They labeled Tudesko a danger to himself and other students and expelled him for a year.

Tudesko appealed the ruling and, with help from National Rifle Association attorneys, had his expulsion lifted last week.

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