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Outdoors notebook: Doves thriving even as grouse, woodcock stumble

| Sunday, March 31, 2013, 10:20 p.m.

Changing habitat conditions across Pennsylvania are helping one bird species at the same time that they're hurting others.

Mourning dove populations are increasing statewide largely because the birds are “habitat generalists,” said Lisa Williams, a biologist in the Pennsylvania Game Commission's game bird section. Hunters took about 225,000 of them last year, or about 11 per hunter.

But ruffed grouse and woodcock are not faring as well. Those birds are “habitat specialists” that require young forests, she said. Unfortunately, that kind of woods is at a 50-year low.

With grouse, the result is that populations have declined by 30 to 50 percent since 1980, Williams said.

Deer ticks

Yale University scientists have discovered a new tick-borne infection in southern New England and New York. It's the first time the disease has been confirmed in the United States.

The disease is so new it doesn't even have a name yet. What is known is that it's transmitted by deer ticks, as is the case with Lyme disease. Its symptoms are similar to Lyme but also can include things like relapsing fever.

Top shooter

Hempfield High School junior Ian Fleming recently was named a second-team junior All-American by the American Trapshooting Association. It's the second consecutive year the Manor teen has received that honor. Fleming also made the Pennsylvania State Trapshooting Association's all-state team for the second year in a row.

Officers sought

If you've ever wanted to be a wildlife conservation officer, here's your chance. The Game Commission is recruiting candidates for its 30th class of officers. Applications are being taken through Friday. Online applications can be submitted via the State Civil Service Commission at www.scsc.state.pa.us.

Big money

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently was given $30 million, one of the largest endowments ever for a hunter-based, wildlife conservation organization.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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