Notes from the outdoors
Around the Game Commission
• Bear hunters have been having a good — in fact, near record — season in Pennsylvania so far.
After two days of the statewide three-day season that ended Wednesday, hunters had killed 2,709 bears, according to Pennsylvania Game Commission reports. Last year, hunters took 2,518 bears on the first two days. And in 2005, when the state record bear harvest was set, hunters took 2,875 bears on the first two days.
The top 10 bears this year so far all weighed 570 pounds or more. The largest were two 654-pound animals, both taken in Penn Forest Township in Carbon County within an hour of each other on opening day by hunters from the same. One was killed by Terence J. Burkhardt of Jim Thorpe and one by Michael J. Wimmer Jr. of Jim Thorpe.
The top bear-producing county after two days was Clinton with 219, followed by Lycoming with 201, Tioga with 198, Cameron with 196 and Potter with 154.
Locally, the bear harvest by county after the season's second day looked like this: Somerset, 61; Fayette, 56; Westmoreland, 56; Jefferson, 52; Armstrong, 34; Indiana, 23; Cambria, 12; Butler, 8; Crawford, 7; and Mercer, 3.
• Thanks to a federal grant, the Game Commission has gotten its monthly magazine, "Game News," back into school and other public libraries.
The magazine has been in publication for 80 years and was long a staple of libraries, which received them free of charge. Ongoing budget cutbacks forced the commission to terminate that service in 2005, however.
A recent Pittman-Robertson grant changed that.
One problem still remains. The commission used to give free subscriptions of its magazine to landowners who enrolled in one of the agency's public access programs. That, too, was eliminated in 2005. It has yet to return.
Anyone can view the magazine on-line for free, though, at Penngamenews.com .
Around the Fish & Boat Commission
• The Fish and Boat Commission is encouraging local governments and nonprofit groups to apply for funding to build or improve boat accesses.
Money is available through the agency's boating facilities grant program. The deadline for submitting applications is Dec.18, 2009.
Eligible activities include the rehabilitation, expansion or construction of new boat ramps, bulkheads, courtesy floats, access roads, parking areas, restrooms, signs and localized landscaping. Eligible projects must occur on public lands owned by the project sponsor, or where the sponsor has a long-term lease or agreement on the site.
The grant program will reimburse recipients for up to 75 percent of the costs for land acquisition, project design and engineering, development, expansion, and major rehabilitation. Successful applicants must come up with the rest of the money and enter into a long-term agreement to keep the facility open to free public use for its useful life.
For more information and applications, visit Fishandboat.com .
• A Fish and Boat Commission officer in western Pennsylvania has been recognized as a "Top Gun."
In 1999, the Pennsylvania DUI Association began recognizing waterways conservation officers for their efforts to prosecute boating under the influence — or BUI — cases. The association has honored one top gun within the agency every year since.
This year's recipient of that award is Matt Visosky, a commission officer in Crawford County.
Visosky was the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators' officer of the year in 2006.
• Fish and Boat Commission officers are reporting that problems with litter have been a major issue this year at the Walnut Creek access and along Erie's steelhead streams.
Sportsmen's clubs do trash pickups each year, and there are plenty of trash cans in the area to take the waste. But a few people are leaving lots of garbage behind.
As a result, "officers will be on a vigilant lookout for those individuals that insist on spoiling our area by carelessly leaving any kind of trash behind," a commission official said.