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Outdoors notebook: Pa. Fish and Boat Commission debates ethics questions

| Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, 10:45 p.m.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has seen what's going on in its neighbor's house, and it wants no part.

State Rep. Darryl Metcalfe has called for an investigation into Bill Capouillez, Pennsylvania Game Commission bureau of wildlife habitat management director, who negotiates oil and gas leases for the agency. He also had negotiated leases for private landowners on his own time.

Metcalfe has tasked the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission with investigating that.

Fish and Boat commissioner Bill Worobec of Lycoming County wants no such problems. He said as much at the board's recent meeting when talk turned to the agency's cooperative nursery grant program. It funnels money to clubs that raise fish for stocking in public waters.

One such group is the Toby Creek Watershed Association. Commissioner Bill Sabatose of Elk County is its president.

Laurie Shepler, chief counsel for the commission, said that in years past, ethics rules said state officials could be found to have a conflict of interest if their activities benefited themselves, their families or a for-profit business. That has since expanded to include nonprofit groups, she added.

Just being a member of a cooperative nursery is not a conflict of interest; being an officer of one that gets state funding could be, she said.

Worobec said that while Sabatose has done nothing unethical, commissioners need to “be mindful” of appearances.

Air guns

If you've paid attention to the evolution of air guns, you know that they're not the same as BB guns of old.

They're lethal enough that one state has legalized them for hunting. New Jersey is allowing hunters to use air guns to take rabbits and squirrels starting this fall. The rules change is meant to attract kids and smaller-framed adults to the sport.

Art contest

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is sponsoring an art contest for students in grades six to 12.

Contestants should depict one or more Pennsylvania endangered species in their native habitat. Winners will be selected on three grade levels.

Details can be found atpgc.state.pa.us.

Stockings

The Fish and Boat Commission recently stocked a couple of local waters with musky fingerlings. Glendale Lake in Prince Gallitzin State Park in Cambria County got 8,000, while Mahoning Creek in Armstrong County got 400.

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

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