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Outdoors

Outdoors notebook: Study shows wildlife thriving in suburbs

Bob Frye
| Sunday, April 6, 2014, 5:33 p.m.

Now, it's official.

This will come as no surprise to people who live in Allegheny County, where Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife conservation officer Dan Puhala recently had to trap and transfer wild turkeys that had become aggressive — to the point of attacking people who came out of their homes — after being fed. But wildlife is finding the living surprisingly good in the 'burbs.

A study done by UC-Santa Barbara's National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis determined that cities are home to a surprising array of wild plants and animals.

The study looked at 147 cities worldwide. It found that green spaces in the most densely-populated urban areas serve as important refuges for native species and migrating wildlife. The phenomenon has been named the “Central Park Effect” because of the surprisingly large number of species found in New York's Central Park.

That's not to say urban areas are as rich as undeveloped ones. There's a “steep price” to be paid for sprawl, officials said. Cities support about 92 percent fewer bird species and 75 percent fewer native plant species that similar areas of undeveloped land.

Hatchery raffle

Three Rivers Chapter of Muskies Inc. is holding a raffle to benefit the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's Union City hatchery.

The money raised will be used to buy minnows to feed spotted muskies before they are stocked. The hatchery has no minnow pond, meaning that without the group's help, the fish get no live feed before being released. The minnows help them grow larger faster, club officials said.

Raffle tickets are $2, with two guided fishing trips the prizes. Tickets can be purchased by sending a check payable to Three Rivers Muskies Inc. to James Buss, 119 Buss Lane, Renfrew PA 16053.

Honored

A recently-retired Game Commission officer has been honored with a new award from California University of Pennsylvania.

Joe Stefko, a wildlife educator in the commission's southwest region office until this year, is one of three people presented with the school's first-ever Community Champions award.

The award “honors men and women who have made significant contributions of time and talent to California University and its students.” Stefko worked to create an internship program for university students, and has mentored students in the fisheries and wildlife biology program.

New organization

There's a new sporting and conservation group out there, the American Woodcock Society.

A branch of the Ruffed Grouse Society, its goal is to “expand forest habitat efforts and upland hunting opportunities to new landscapes across the nation.”

The group's formation is an opportunity to help a species that has heretofore been underrepresented, especially in the southern states where it winters, officials said. Anyone interested in learning more about the Woodcock Society can call 412-262-4044 or email aws@ruffedgrousesociety.org.

Dams removed

Pennsylvania led the nation again last year, for an 11th consecutive year, in removing outdated and unsafe dams from its waterways.

According to the group American Rivers, 12 dams were taken out across the Commonwealth in 2013. That was nearly a quarter of the national total of 51 dams removed.

Removing old dams is part of an effort to restore rivers to their free-flowing state and revitalize fish and wildlife populations while improving public safety.

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

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