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Outdoors notebook: Boating accidents were down in '12

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 4:42 p.m.

Last year was a relatively safe one for boating across Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission records show there were 56 accidents resulting in 11 fatalities in 2012. Property damage to the 72 boats involved totaled $167,390.

By comparison, in 2011, there were 86 accidents resulting in 22 fatalities. Property damage to the 99 vessels totaled $196,563.

Last year's fatalities were spread across the state. There were two in Allegheny County, one each on the Allegheny and Ohio rivers, and one in Butler County on Lake Arthur.

Only three of the 11 people who died in the accidents were wearing life jackets. July accounted for four deaths. May and November were the next most deadly months with two each. The deadliest days of the week were Sunday and Saturday, in that order.

Capsizings and falls overboard were to blame in nine deaths. Three of the fatalities involved an open motorboat, two each involved canoes, kayaks and pontoon boats and one each involved an inflatable raft and personal watercraft.

Turkey course

The Game Commission will hold a couple of turkey hunting courses in the coming weeks.

One is set from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at South Connellsville Rod and Gun Club in Fayette County. Another will be from 9 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. April 21 at Mars Rod and Gun Club in Butler County.

At both, participants will learn about turkey hunting safety, as well as techniques for patterning your shotgun, calling in birds, scouting, using decoys and estimating distances. Students can bring a shotgun to the class or use one provided. All ammunition is provided and students will go home with a turkey call and a study guide.

Cost is $15. Registration is required in advance at

Caviar caper

Eight men are facing charges for trafficking not in drugs, but paddlefish caviar.

An investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Missouri Department of Conservation led to the indictment on charges of selling the fish eggs, which have been in high demand because of shortages in sturgeon eggs from Europe and Asia.

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