Northcentral Field Officer Report  - October 10, 2014

Tioga County WCO Rob Minnich reports that the fall hunting season is on us and it’s finally starting to feel like fall. Hunters are getting out and doing some scouting and finding some nice deer, bear and turkeys. Mast crops are beginning to fall and look to be good overall, but some areas are spotty so scouting will pay off.

Potter and Tioga County Land Manager Denise Mitcheltree reports that the Food and Cover Crews have been amending food plots with lime applications, preparing parking areas in preparation for the fall and winter hunting seasons, as well as finishing the mowing of vegetated roads to provide foot-travel access deep into the game lands. They also are finishing projects that will establish early successional habitat on game lands in both counties.

WCO Dan Murray, Centre County, reports that six individuals were found to be hunting through the use of bait at five different locations on the opening day of the 2014 archery deer season. These individuals all were hunting on State Game Lands or property controlled by the Game Commission. Charges include unlawful devices and methods, and various other violations.  

WCO Mark Fair, Potter County, reports hunting opportunities in Potter County should be good in the southern tier. A fair amount of red oak trees are producing acorns for the first time in a few years. 

Lycoming County WCO Kristoffer Krebs reports that a Williamsport man pleaded guilty to multiple trapping violations. The incident occurred in November 2013. The defendant was charged by WCOs Kristoffer Krebs and Jonathan Wyant with 28 violations of the Game and Wildlife Code.  The defendant pleaded guilty to 27 charges and was ordered to pay $2,700 in fines. The defendant now faces revocation of his hunting and trapping privileges.

Lycoming County WCO Kristoffer Krebs reports that deer hunters in Lycoming County should have an excellent chance for success this fall. I have been observing a lot of deer while patrolling my district and have seen several trophy bucks.

Lycoming and Union counties LMO Thomas M. Smith reports his Food & Cover Crews have started two Warm-Season Grass conversion projects. On 75 acres of Lycoming County’s State Game Lands 75, and on 150 acres of Union County’s State Game Lands 317, current cool-season grasses will each receive a fall and spring herbicide treatment and prescribed burns prior to the establishment of native warm-season grass mixtures.  These areas will provide for good turkey nesting and deer fawning on State Game Lands 75 and excellent pheasant cover on State Game Lands 317.

Land Manager Eric Erdman, Centre and Clinton counties, reports State Game Lands 176, Scotia Range in Centre County, will be undergoing slight changes to operations that will affect how and when the public can utilize the range. We no are longer asking users to sign in before use, and the hours of operation for all ranges in the Scotia Range complex will be from 8 a.m. until sunset, seven days a week. Users are still required to follow all rules and regulations related to Game Commission shooting ranges.”             

Tioga County WCO Rodney Mee reports that he has continued to catch numerous bears causing damage in cornfields in the Morris and Wellsboro areas. One bear was a recapture and was caught in June by WCO Kristoffer Krebs in Cogan Station and moved to Union County. The bear was a 250-pound male apparently still trying to secure a home range.

Potter County WCO Bill Ragosta says that he’s starting to receive reports of illegal spotlighting, baiting and killing of deer in the closed season. Please report suspected violations to your Game Commission regional office. The Northcentral Region even has a new email address to make it easy to make those reports.

Lycoming County WCO Harold Cole reports that he has been very busy trying to trap bears. He states that he is receiving a lot of reports of bears with bad cases of mange around the Pine Creek Valley area, and several bears have been getting into farmers corn causing damage.

Lycoming County WCO Jonathan M. Wyant reports that he successfully completed a case against an individual for trapping in closed season. The case yielded more than $2,500in fines, resulted in the seizure of six muskrats taken in closed season, and placed the trapper on revocation for nine years.

WCO Tom Sabolcik, McKean County, reports that individuals responsible for dumping trash on state game lands were identified and charges will be filed. The individuals cleaned up the area in exchange for minimal fines.

WCO Tom Sabolcik, McKean County, reports that two Hunter-Trapper Education courses have just been completed, with 42 students successfully completing the courses.  “These classes were the last to be scheduled here in eastern McKean County for this year,” Sabolicik said. “A special ‘thank you’ and a ‘job well done’ go out to all of the volunteer HTE instructors who gave their time to make each class a success.”

WCO Tom Sabolcik, McKean County, reminds trappers that now is the time to prepare equipment for the upcoming season. Scouting is very important as is making sure traps are in good condition.  Check the condition of your tags and if necessary order new ones.

Cameron County WCO Wayne A. Hunt reports a joint effort with WCOs Tom Mcmann, and Susan Edmiston, where charges were successfully brought against a Tioga County man for hand-feeding bears, and killing rattlesnakes while he was employed at a Marcellus well site in Elk County.

Elk County WCO Susan Edmiston reports that three individuals from Allegheny and Westmoreland counties have pleaded guilty to several charges relating to their participation in the poaching of a deer at night near their camp located in Lafayette Township, McKean County. The parties involved got their vehicle stuck and called McKean County 911 for assistance. PSP Troopers out of the Kane barracks responded. Upon arrival of a Mount Jewett based towing company, the tow driver refused to enter the gate leading into the property where the vehicle was stuck, because there was a Game Commission “Closed to Motorized Vehicles” sign on the gate. The individuals called the Northcentral Regional Office of the Game Commission the following day for assistance in getting the vehicle out. WCO Edmiston and LMGS Leonard Groshek were investigating where the vehicle came from when they discovered fresh blood in the bed of the pickup. Upon questioning the individuals at the camp, a fresh velvet spike buck head was discovered. The individuals claimed it came from a roadkill. Groshek and Edmiston found no sign of a deer/vehicle collision in the area they described. Speaking further with the party involved, Edmiston and Groshek obtained consent to search the camp, from the owner, over the phone. While searching the premises, a single turkey vulture flew from a wooded area behind the camp revealing to officers the location of parts of the butchered deer and a salted hide containing bullet holes. When the individuals were confronted with the evidence, two of them gave written statements as to their involvement in the poaching activity and concealing of evidence. Violations cited included unlawful taking and assisting with the unlawful taking of big game during a closed season, unlawful use of lights while hunting, resisting or interfering with an officer, and unlawful devices and methods involving the use of the vehicle to locate game. The fines, court and replacement costs for the three totaled $7,429.50 and they will be facing the possibility of years of license revocation.

Clearfield County WCO Mark Gritzer reports that another bat tested positive for rabies this summer. This is also the second documented case within the city limits of Clearfield.  This species entered a person’s dwelling and the individual is being treated for rabies exposure as a precautionary measure.  People should be reminded that skunks, raccoons, bats, groundhogs, foxes, and coyotes are considered rabies vector species and caution should be applied.  Please do not flush any bat species down the toilet if they enter your household.  A Woodland resident recently had multiple bats enter his domicile and he decided to flush one down the toilet to resolve the problem. The family members that occupy the house are being treated for rabies exposure due to the unknown certainty of the bat being flushed away into the sewage system.

WCO Dirk Remensnyder, Union County, reports citing two different individuals for littering on game lands.

WCO Mike Steingraber, in State College, Centre County, reports that he observed a few woodsmen on State Game Lands 333 during a particularly cold morning with inadequate gear. Hunters, trappers, and the general outdoorsman need to be sure to dress warm enough and be prepared for the extreme cold we can encounter in winter. Failure to do so could result in frostbite or even more grave consequences. 

WCO Mike Steingraber, in State College, Centre County, reports that turkey sightings on State Game Lands 176 have been quite frequent. In addition to turkey sightings, tick sightings have been frequent too! Mild to warm days in spring and fall seem to have the most tick activity. Turkey hunters should be aware of the increasing tick activity at this time of the year! 

WCO Mike Steingraber, in State College, Centre County, reports seeing a mink in the Penn’s Creek area, south of Coburn. This mink was a brown phase but they come in several different color varieties. However, the brownish color is probably the most common. 

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