Southwest Field Officer Report  - August 29, 2014

Allegheny County WCO Dan Puhala reports that an illegal deer case from last hunting season was recently adjudicated through a local Magisterial District Court. “The local individual pleaded guilty to multiple game-law violations at a hearing in July. The individual shot an antlerless deer without a 2B antlerless license behind his house with a crossbow and processed the deer on his patio in a residential area. The person charged was assessed fines of $1,250, plus court costs and faces up to three years of losing his hunting privileges,” he said.

Allegheny, Beaver and Washington counties GLMGS Doug Dunkerley reports on the Pittsburgh bald eagle camera project. “One of our big media successes for the region was the installation of a camera to view nesting bald eagles in the City of Pittsburgh. The eagle pair had a successful nest, it fledged three eaglets. None of this would have been possible if not for some extra effort by several Game Commission employees,” he said.  “First, in 2012, WCO Beth Fife had contracted the property under the Cooperative Hunter Access Program with a very modest landowner who still wishes to remain anonymous. That enabled the Game Commission to begin to secure and manage the property. Securing the property proved to be quite a task that included the help of  two Food & Cover crews: Steve Carney, Justin Reichel, Jeff Noah, Adam Bedillion and Will Fife. Securing efforts included the closing of roads to illegal vehicle traffic, cleaning up dumpsites, and posting the area to limit human interference. A continued presence there by WCOs Gary Fujak and Dan Puhala ensured the eagles would not be bothered during their nesting period. A thanks to all for all your efforts!!!”

Beaver County WCO Mike Yeck reports that on two separate occasions, subjects were cited for riding motorized vehicles on gated access roads on State Game Lands 285 in South Beaver and Darlington townships. The first individual was operating an ATV and the second was operating a street-legal motorcycle. Both subjects pleaded guilty to the charges.
Beaver County WCO Mike Yeck reports that a juvenile male bald eagle was recovered along a busy highway near the Ohio River. “The eagle had been struck by a passing vehicle and sustained a severe compound fracture to its left wing. After retrieving the eagle and consulting with several specialists, it was determined that the eagle would not recover from the injury and it was humanely euthanized,” he said.
Beaver County WCO Mike Yeck reports that several more individuals were cited for riding ATVs on Hunter Access property in Big Beaver Borough. “Although there is signage indicating that motorized vehicles are prohibited, there have been a total of 15 people cited on this property since the beginning of the year,” he said.
Cambria and Indiana counties GLMGS Dan Yahner reports an update on the use of residual paper waste from a local paper mill for use on state game lands. “The residual waste from the paper-making process is inert, but still contains biosolids from the wood pulp. Most importantly, it contains approximately 17 percent calcium (lime). The disposal company is able to spread the material, disc it into the soil and plant the areas in mixed clovers and small grains – all at no cost to the Game Commission. The process is being performed to enhance current food plots and to establish many acres of new food plots on previously strip-mined areas,” he said. “The addition of lime is critical in order to get the desired plants to grow, and many thousands of dollars are spent each year to add lime to the food plots. To date in 2014, over 21 acres of new food plots have been created on State Game Lands 108 and 158, and planted in a mix of legumes.”

Fayette County WCO Douglas Bergman reports that the black bear population looks very good for the upcoming seasons. “Complaints and sightings have been high throughout the summer months and with the extended season during the first week of antlered deer season in WMU 2C, a moderate harvest is likely. Opportunities are abundant for hunters on state game lands and private lands in the district,” he said.

Fayette County WCO Douglas Bergman reports that an investigation is underway against a Vanderbilt couple for unlawful possession of a white-tailed deer stemming from a late-night poaching incident in the Vanderbilt area. Anyone having further information of unlawful activity in the area should contact the Game Commission’s Southwest Regional Office at 724-238-9523.

Fayette and Greene counties GLMGS Stephen Leiendecker reports that the Food and Cover crew in Fayette County has recently partnered with conservation-minded organizations to assist with habitat work. “One project included assisting the Fish and Boat Commission with a stream enhancement project on Dunbar Creek on State Game Lands 51. Dunbar Creek runs through part of State Game Lands 51 and is a popular destination for fly fisherman. Every year, the Fish and Boat Commission makes some improvements to the stream and the Food and Cover crew pitch in with a skid steer and an operator to help this effort,” he said. “On another project, they assisted with some habitat-enhancement work in partnership with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy at Bear Run. The crew completed some mowing and opened up some old fields that were beginning to become overtaken by tree growth. Bear Run is a 5,000 acre tract in Fayette County that is enrolled in the Hunter Access program and is open to hunting with permission from the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.”

Fayette and Greene counties GLMGS Stephen Leiendecker reports that the Food and Cover crews in both counties have done an exceptional job with food plots on several game lands this year. “The weather cooperated with the crews when they were planting the food plots and it resulted in some really nice fields of corn, sunflower, brassica, sorgum and clover. Archery hunters on State Game Lands 223, 179, 51 and 111 will have some really nice areas to place their stands this year,” he said.

Fayette and Greene counties GLMGS Stephen Leiendecker reports that the Casparis Mine openings on State Game Lands 51 near Connellsville have been successfully gated to protect bats. The gates were installed by a contractor who also gated a nearby cave entrance as well.

Indiana County WCO Chris Reidmiller reports that a recent enhanced patrol of state game lands and property enrolled in the Game Commission’s Hunter Access program in the Indiana area resulted in several violations being uncovered. “Thanks to the efforts of surrounding officers, we were able to detect 23 total violations in one afternoon, and 10 individuals received summary citations,” he said.

Somerset County WCO Nathaniel Kimmel reports that approximately 15 individuals were found camping on a local Hunter Access property. “Though the property owner does not prohibit camping in certain areas, a multitude of other violations were uncovered. Three individuals were cited illegally traveling on lands by vehicles and damaging the property by cutting down trees for firewood. 

Somerset County WCO Nathaniel Kimmel reports information was received from a Hunter Access property owner in regards to some garbage dumped on their property. “After examining the garbage, it appeared as though it was some garbage accrued from somebody’s vehicle and was subsequently thrown from the vehicle. The garbage contained multiple items from local fast food restaurants as well as some empty tobacco containers. The last item that I found was an expired car insurance policy listing an individual’s name and address,” he said. “After arriving at the address found on the paperwork, I found the two vehicles listed on the expired policy at that location as well. After questioning the suspect, he stated that it could have been one of his roommates, but he also admitted that he has done this in the past and stated that he likely tossed it from his vehicle. The individual received a citation for littering.”

Somerset County WCO Shawn Barron reports that several individuals were recently cited for driving ATVs on State Game Lands 111. The individuals were operating their vehicles on roads that were clearly marked closed to motorized vehicles.

Somerset County WCO Shawn Barron reports that several individuals have been cited in recent weeks for using the State Game Lands 50 shooting range in Somerset County without current and valid hunting licenses or range permits. Individuals wishing to use the range are reminded that hunting and furtaker licenses, and range permits, expire on June 30 of each license year and a new license or permit must be purchased before use of the range is allowed.

Somerset and Westmoreland counties GLMGS Travis Anderson reports that he cited several individuals recently for possession and use of controlled substance on a Hunter Access property managed by the Game Commission.

Somerset and Westmoreland County GLMGS Travis Anderson reports that several projects are underway on State Game Lands 42 and 228 to improve habitat, primarily for snowshoe hares, but that the projects will also benefit multiple other species that use early successional habitat.

Washington County WCO Richard W. Joyce reports citations were filed on an individual that was illegally four-wheeling in a hay field on a Hunter Access property. “The same individual was also charged with operating a motorized vehicle on State Game Lands 245 after I had found the broken front clip and was able to match it to his Jeep,” he said.

Westmoreland County WCO Michael J. Papinchak reports that an individual pleaded guilty to killing two deer without having the required antlerless licenses. “He also pleaded guilty to several lesser charges. The $800 per deer replacement cost was applied, adding $1,600 to the fines to be collected,” he said.

Westmoreland County WCO Brian Singer reports that his deputies have recently prosecuted cases involving multiple counts of unlawfully riding ATVs on Hunter Access properties. Officers used surveillance cameras to identify several individuals involved in the violations.

Westmoreland County WCO Brian Singer reports officers continue to receive information on unlawful trapping activities. Officers recently filed several citations for cable restraints found set after the season. The defendants pleaded guilty to the violations in each case.

Pennsylvania Game Commission, 2001 Elmerton Ave, Harrisburg Pennsylvania 17110-9797