Outdoors notebook: Black bear becoming more common in urban areas
There's no doubt black bears are becoming more common in Pennsylvania's urban areas. A 275-pound bear was killed by a vehicle on Freeport Road in Allegheny County recently, while archery hunter John Gleinn took a 115-pound bear very close by. The Game Commission is trying to figure out what to make of it all through its urban bear study. Bears were collared in three urban areas of the state; efforts to follow them via radiotelemetry and satellites has been ongoing. Now two graduate students will analyze that data. One, from West Virginia University, will look at landscapes and corridors and try to determine how bears are moving in places with many people. Another, from Penn State University, will develop a landowner survey to determine the level of access available to bear hunters in urban areas, something that's important when trying to determine how vulnerable bears are to harvest.
• The Game Commission is asking hunters to consider donating extra deer to the Hunters Sharing the Harvest program. It channels donations of venison to local food banks, soup kitchens and needy families. Started in 1991, it annually provides almost 200,000 meals. It works when hunters take a deer to a participating meat processor and donate all or part of it. If hunters donate an entire deer, they are asked to make a $15 tax-deductible donation toward the cost of butchering it; the program covers the rest. For details or to find participating butchers, call 866-474-2141 or visit www.sharedeer.org.
• The Fish and Boat Commission is tweaking its Fish for Free Days program. This year the commission offered people an opportunity to fish without first buying a license on Memorial Day and Labor Day. Next year the commission will allow free fishing on Memorial Day and July 4. The commission stages education fishing programs statewide prior to the “fish for free” days in an attempt to get people excited about fishing. It's had good participation on Memorial Day, said Laurel Anders, director of the bureau of boating and outreach. That wasn't the case on Labor Day. The hope is that a July 4 “fish for free” day — falling when kids are out of school, boating activity is at its highest, bass season is open and the Cabela's “Wanna Fish for Millions” contest is open — “will keep the momentum rolling” from Memorial Day, she said.