Game Commission field officers report on outdoor happenings

Field officers for the state Game Commission’s Northcentral region filed the following reports on March 28, according to the agency’s website:

Tioga County Wildlife Conservation Officer Rodney Mee reports that successful hen turkey trapping operations were conducted in the Tiadaghton area. Twelve birds were banded and released for the final year of the hen survival study.

Clearfield County WCO Mark Gritzer submitted two elk to the Penn State Diagnostic Lab for testing during the month of February. One animal was sighted by a coyote hunter who took the extra effort to report this observation. The elk was very emaciated and exhibited signs of diarrhea. Lab results are pending.

  • Gritzer reports that an 88-year-old pleaded guilty to nine trapping violations. The violations ranged from using bait that was visible from the air to unlawful killing a gray fox and a coyote. During the investigation, a sticker was noticed on the defendant’s cabin door. It illustrated a person urinating a PGC logo.
  • Clinton County WCO Ken Packard says that despite the bitter cold and knee-deep snow, the recent arrival of bluebirds is a welcome sight and indicates spring is just around the corner. Now is the time to get those bird boxes cleaned out and repaired for the females’ inspection.
  • McKean County WCO Tom Sabolcik reports that beaver trappers, for the most part, have pulled their traps and are waiting for the weather to break. The ice on some ponds exceeds 14 inches, so the wait for the spring thaw may take some time.

Potter and Tioga County Land Manager Denise Mitcheltree reports the Tioga County Food and Cover crew observed a groundhog out and about on 16 inches of crust-topped snow on Feb. 20 near SGL 37.

  • WCO?John P. Dzemyan, game lands management group supervisor for Elk and McKean counties, reports that in spite of the extremely cold weather this winter, the counties’ food and cover crews often were covered in sweat from running chain saws and cutting trees while breaking through the crusted snow step by step to the next tree. Just walking through the crusted snow got to be difficult, let alone doing it while carrying chain saws and pruning apple trees, making brushpiles, maintaining wood duck boxes, etc. Some of the activities took place on snowshoes during the month of February.

Dzemyan said that wildlife in McKean and Elk counties survived the winter very well. Snow depth never became a problem except for a couple weeks in February and, now, there are plenty of open areas where deer, turkey and other wildlife have been seen in good numbers. “Many hunters and other people have been remarking to me how they are seeing many more deer this late winter than they have seen for years,” he said.

  • Dzemyan also reports that the food and cover crews in McKean and Elk counties spent much of February cutting low-value trees to increase food and cover for wildlife. From the tracks in the snow, the results were immediate everywhere they worked. Rabbits, hares, grouse, deer and turkey tracks quickly covered the border-cut locations, taking advantage of the daylighted crabapple trees along with the fresh browse tops and great cover the brushpiles made.

Northeast region – Feb. 28

  • Sullivan County Land Management Group Supervisor Jim Jolley reports that, while inspecting a section of State Game Lands 13 with Land Management Supervisor Peter Sussenbach, he observed footprints, turkey feathers, shell casings and blood on the fresh snow. They soon discovered a freshly killed turkey hidden in a ditch near the road. The two suspected that the turkey may have been killed by individuals who passed them in a pickup truck moments before. The owner of the truck was identified and three young adults wrote statements to their involvement in the illegal killing of the turkey. Charges were filed and are pending in Sullivan County district court.

SOUTHCENTRAL region – March 14

Land Management Officer Steven Bernardi said two individuals were cited for littering after shooting at cardboard targets in a shale pit that is very popular with local hunters for sighting in their guns. The violation occurred when they failed to take their targets with them when they left. Target shooting is permitted there however leaving the targets behind is not.

  • Blair County WCO William Brehun reports that multiple charges have been filed on a Snyder Township, Blair County, resident for allowing his dogs to pursue, injure and kill two white-tailed deer and one cottontail rabbit. The individual also was charged with dog-law violations.

NORTHWEST region – March 28

  • Jefferson County WCO Roger A. Hartless said several county residents recently were arrested for having portable or home-based meth labs. Anyone who spends time outdoors needs to be vigilant for the trash and byproducts of these operations that often gets dumped in remote areas such as game lands. If you find something that looks suspicious, leave it alone, move away and notify the local authorities.

Southwest Region – March 28

Allegheny County WCO Dan Puhala reports that two incidents of turkeys acting aggressively toward people have been recently reported. “These incidents have occurred in urban/suburban areas and appear to have been caused by the turkeys being fed and habituated by individuals in the areas. It appears that the turkeys have begun to attempt to establish some form of dominance in the area where they live,” he said.

Beaver County WCO Matt Kramer reports osprey have been sighted in the Ohio River corridor. “These ‘fish hawks’ are a good indicator that the water quality in the river drainage has gotten better from the industrial days of the 50s and 60s,” he said.