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Outdoors notebook: Saving fish an expensive proposition

| Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, 7:21 p.m.

Trying to save as many fish as possible from a doomed lake may be a necessary job. But it's an expensive one, too.

An example is 562-acre Tamarack Lake in Crawford County. When it had to be drained last summer after leaks were found in its dam, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission biologists decided to save as many of its game fish as possible.

Crews spent 34 days and 1,464 hours collecting 174 walleyes, 25 muskies, 138 largemouth bass and 24,400 panfish. Another 397,000 pounds of panfish and 77,000 pounds of carp were disposed of in a pit.

The commission spent $57,394 to do that, or $2.33 per panfish and $170 per predatory fish.

By comparison, the American Fisheries Society puts the cost of replacing a predator like a walleye, bass or muskie between $1.72 and $4.72 per fish.

“That's a very sobering number, a very eye-opening number,” said Dave Miko, chief of the commission's division of fisheries management. The work is something the public demands, though, said commission executive director John Arway.

“The reality of it is, it's become part of the job. It's become new age fish management,” Arway said.

Wildlife vet retiring

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is looking for a new wildlife veterinarian. The man in that job now, Walt Cottrell, is retiring Sept. 24.

Finding a replacement will not be easy, said Cal Dubrock, director of the commission's bureau of wildlife management. The agency wants someone with experience with free-range wildlife — as opposed to a pet or zoo vet — and those kind of people are hard to find, especially given the limits of what the state can pay, he said.

Boating fatalities

This hasn't been a particularly safe year on the water across Pennsylvania.

There were nine fatalities statewide already as of July. Only two of the people who died were wearing life jackets.

Last year, there were a record-low 11 boating fatalities in the state, according to the Fish and Boat Commission. That was 11 fewer than 2011 and two below the new 10-year average.

Commission meeting

The Game Commission board will meet Monday and Sept. 24 at the Lamplighter Restaurant, 6566 William Penn Highway, in Delmont. Public testimony will be accepted starting at 8:30 a.m. Monday. The Sept. 24 portion of the meeting will focus on the formal agenda.

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