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Outdoors notebook: Help sought for first-ever Pa. mammal project

| Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016, 5:24 p.m.

Outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen with cameras are being recruited by the Pennsylvania Game Commission for a special project.

The agency, together with the Pennsylvania Biological Survey, is working to create a mammal atlas identifying where in the state all of the 64 mammal species that live here are found.

Two statewide bird atlases have been compiled. Work to create a first-ever one for reptiles and amphibians is underway. This, likewise, will be the state's first for mammals.

“The result of this project will be an approximately 10-year snapshot of Pennsylvania wild mammal distributions,” commission biologist Lindsey Heffernan said.

The goal is to figure out which species are common and which are rare, and in that latter case, identify where they exist. That information will be used in deciding where to focus conservation priorities.

Professional biologists will travel the state to collect what data they can. But, Hefferman said, “we simply can't cover enough ground.”

The commission is asking “citizen scientists” to snap photos of wildlife whenever possible and upload those to pamammalatlas.com. Those who register can browse species distribution maps, statistics, photographs and descriptions of each wild mammal species in Pennsylvania.

Hefferman will provide more information on the project and an update on progress at the agency's meeting Feb. 1.

New president

Nick Pinizotto, an Indiana County native, is the first president and CEO of the National Deer Alliance.

Formerly CEO of the Sportsmen's Alliance and Delta Waterfowl, Pinizotto was chosen after a nationwide search, said Jay McAninch, CEO of the Archery Trade Association and chairman of the National Deer Alliance.

The alliance is a mix of deer organizations, state wildlife agencies and industry companies. It is intended to be a unified voice for deer issues across the country.

“As someone with a deep love and respect for deer, I am certainly excited for this opportunity. More importantly, I look forward to rolling up our sleeves and working hard on the issues that impact deer and deer hunters,” said Pinizotto, who will work from his home in Ohio.

Advisory council

Gov. Tom Wolf — maintaining a tradition started by former Gov. Tom Ridge — is forming a sportsmen's advisory council.

Known officially as the Governor's Advisory Council for Hunting, Fishing and Conservation, it will be made up of 20 people. It will serve to “offer recommendations and advice on a range of outdoor-related issues, including pending legislation.” It also will recommend nominees for Pennsylvania Fish and Boat and Game commission boards.

A 20-person youth council made up of 14- to 18-year-olds will make recommendations on how to engage youngsters in the outdoors.

Robb Miller, who was Gov. Ed Rendell's sportsmen's adviser, is back to lead the council.

Pheasants Forever

Pittsburgh has a new Pheasants Forever group, known as the Greater Allegheny Chapter. Its mission is to focus on habitat restoration and youth recruitment.

Mark Rozum of McDonald is president. Christopher Trunick of Sewickley is treasurer, and Peter Beaulieu of Pittsburgh is banquet chairman. For information, call Rozum at 412-216-5786.

Special deer

Talk about a wanderer.

In Wisconsin, a state known for whitetails, Randy Haines of Amery, Wisc., shot a mule deer this past fall. The closest wild population is in the Dakotas.

Wildlife officials checked it for tags, thinking it might have escaped from captivity, but found no evidence of that.

Bob Frye is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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