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Around the game commission

| Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Around the game commission

• Trappers may find lots of furbearers this fall but perhaps less than exceptional fur prices. Game Commission wildlife conservation officer Wade Kramer in Somerset County said furbearing wildlife is abundant. “I am seeing many raccoons, both red and grey foxes and hearing coyotes everywhere,” he said. But Westmoreland County conservation officer Brian Singer said reports he's hearing from fur buyers indicate prices may be down. “They indicated that there is still a surplus of raccoon pelts left over at the fur auctions from last year, and that could affect the price this year,” he said. “They also cautioned trappers to wait as long as possible for pelts to become prime in order to get the best grading. Fox pelts prime from the tail to the head, and a prime pelt can be seen when the animal has thick hair around the neck area. Raccoons prime from the head down usually into November when the weather gets colder.”

Around the fish and boat commission

• The Fish and Boat Commission wants to work on an alternative revenue plan. Executive director John Arway has been talking about a water fee, whereby corporations which pull water from Pennsylvania's rivers and streams would pay for it. The state and commission would share in the bounty. Just like the commission gets a royalty from companies who dredge Pittsburgh's rivers for gravel and sand, it and the state ought to get a royalty on water — a commodity held in public trust — used, Arway said. Gov. Tom Corbett's office has not endorsed the idea per se, Arway said. But it said it would not block any effort to have the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee study the idea and determine things like what fees to charge, how much they might generate and who should share in them, he added. State lawmakers must direct the committee to do the study, though, and that's where things have stalled. Several times lawmakers have promised to sponsor a study, but none have followed through. It will likely take public pressure from anglers and boaters to build momentum, Arway said.

• Fish and Boat Commissioner Glade Squires, a Duquesne native now living in Chester County, wants the agency to simplify its fishing and boating regulations. He and commissioners Ed Mascharka of Erie County and G. Warren Elliott of Franklin County will meet with staff from the agency's law enforcement and fisheries divisions to discuss ways of making the rules more “user friendly.” Their recommendations are expected early next year.

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