Share This Page

Frye: Talking bear cubs, scope safety and wasting disease

| Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, 10:36 p.m.

A few interesting things have come through the inbox recently, perhaps worth sharing.

One reader wondered whether shooting a female bear in the fall hunting season dooms any cubs with her to death over the winter.

The answer is no. Cubs whose mother is harvested in the fall are just as likely to survive long-term as are those who spend their first winter with their mother, said Mark Ternent, the Pennsylvania Game Commission's bear biologist.

“As long as the cubs are of average body weight, their chances of survival are quite good and comparable to other cubs still with sows. We know this because over the past 30 years we have conducted extensive wintertime reproductive monitoring of bears where we visit dens and ear-tag newborn cubs,” Ternent said.

“In some of these litters, the mother is harvested while still with the cubs, which we know by identifying her ear tags in the harvest,” he added. “We then watch for the ear tags of the affected cubs in subsequent harvest years. Many of them eventually show up, providing evidence that they survived despite their mother being harvested while they were still 11 months old.”

Another reader, in response to a photo that appeared showing a deer hunter looking through his scope “in hopes of spotting game,” as the caption read, called to say that “long-standing” Game Commission rules say that's illegal.

That's not quite true, said Tom Fazi, information and education supervisor in the commission's southwest region office.

Using your scope to identify movement or tell whether something in the woods is deer, man or something else is a definite no-no from a safety standpoint, something hunter education instructors stress all the time, he said. That's a job for binoculars, he added.

“But it is not illegal, just unsafe and unwise,” he said. “And it's something we couldn't enforce anyway.”

Finally, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has announced that Purple 4, the farm-raised deer that escaped captivity in Huntingdon County, has tested negative for chronic wasting disease.

The deer — linked to the farm in Adams County where the disease was found earlier this fall — had escaped from an unlicensed deer farm in Alexandria.

It was shot by a hunter last month and tested at the Pennsylvania State Veterinary Laboratory.

The department said it is implementing herd plans for the 24 farms in 12 counties still under quarantine because of similar links to the Adams County facility.

It has not said what those plans might include.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at bfrye@tribweb.com or 724-838-5148.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.