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Frye: Of bills, ticks, outdoor apps

| Saturday, April 25, 2015, 9:00 p.m.

Observations on a few things outdoors …

• There was a time when opponents of any move to legalize Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania would point to sportsmen and say they couldn't agree among themselves whether it was a good idea.

That was true enough. Hunters often split 50-50 on the issue.

But at the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs' spring convention, delegates were polled on 10 already-introduced or likely-coming pieces of legislation. One was a bill Lackawanna County Rep. Frank Farina has been circulating among his fellow lawmakers for cosponsors. It would give the Pennsylvania Game Commission the authority to decide when and if to include Sundays in seasons.

Federation delegates voted 80-17 with four abstentions to support the coming bill.

That's a huge change from past years and might be a sign the tide has turned.

• Federation delegates also voted to support three other House Bills: No. 223, which would permit the use of semiautomatic rifles in .223-caliber or smaller for hunting fox, coyotes and groundhogs; No. 263, which would give the commission the authority to allow air rifles for hunting; and No. 231, which would allow the commission, and not county treasurers, to sell doe tags.

Rejected by a 98-2 vote was Senate Bill 374, which would require hunters to report killing a deer within 24 hours instead of the current 10 days. The concern was it would leave hunters who kill a deer from a camp with no phone or Internet no way to comply short of going home.

• If it seems like ticks are everywhere these days, they officially are.

Last week, Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection announced that blacklegged, or deer, ticks have been confirmed in all 67 state counties. The same research found that the ticks have become imbedded in Western Pennsylvania in recent years, “though the prevalence rate of Lyme disease still remains relatively lower than the rest of the state.”

There were no ticks and no Lyme Disease here as recently as the 1960s, the report said.

• The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission launched a free new app, and the Game Commission is working to develop two by fall.

On the Fish side, the FishBoatPA app identifies things like which streams have been stocked with trout, how to get to those waters and what other access areas are nearby. There's a Fish ID feature, along with a section for sharing photos.

It's available on Google's Play Store and Apple's App Store.

On the Game side, one app will allow a hunter to pick the species he wants to hunt, then identify state game lands managed especially for it, said Mark Neissner, manager of the commission's GIS section. It also will identify early successional habitat on game lands, broken down as being 0-5, 6-10 and 11-15 years old, he said.

Another app will show pheasant stocking locations, identifying not just the game lands that get birds but also specifically where they're released via what Neissner called “broad circles.”

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

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