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Outdoors notebook: No wild pheasants again this year

| Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, 10:30 p.m.

It doesn't look like Pennsylvania is going to get any wild birds for its pheasant recovery areas.

The Game Commission and Pheasants Forever have been trying for years to bring wild pheasants from the Midwest to Pennsylvania for release into these areas, which have been the site of intense habitat work and are closed to hunting. The idea has been to see if the birds could take root to the point of offering huntable populations.

The commission got a few hundred birds in the first couple of years of the program. But it hasn't gotten any since 2011, and it doesn't look like it's going to get any this winter, either. The commission is going to go through the process of asking for birds, said spokesman Travis Lau, but no one is hopeful.

“They've pretty much told us ‘no' this year,” Cal DuBrock, director of the commission's bureau of wildlife management, said of his counterparts in those potential supply states.

Those states count their pheasant populations in the hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of birds.

But their populations are down significantly as a result of several bad winters, and for “public relations” reasons they can't part with even a few hundred, DuBrock said.

Concerted effort

Operation Talon was a bigger success than ever this year.

That's the name given to a one-night, statewide law enforcement operation coordinated by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. It involves law enforcement officers from the agency, as well as from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, state police, state parks and forests and others.

The operation resulted in 344 citations for game law violations, along with 140 warnings, said Rich Palmer, head of the commission's bureau of wildlife protection.

Last year, the operation resulted in 295 citations and 102 warnings.

The increase is not so much as reflection of more illegal activity as it is a case of having more officers involved, he said. That involved surveillance from aircraft.

Urban wildlife

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is taking the wilds to the people.

The agency has launched an “Urban Wildlife Refuge Initiative” to make its programs more relevant to the 80 percent of Americans who live in big and small cities. It will focus on exposing them to birding, fishing, hunting, hiking, canoeing and more. Details can be found at americaswildlife.org.

New role

Doug Austen, a previous executive director of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission who resigned after his board tried to force him out, has resurfaced.

Austen has been named executive director of the American Fisheries Society, the “world's largest and oldest organization of professional fish and fishery scientists and managers.”

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

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