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New fishing activities on tap

Generally, March is a slow month in the outdoors as we fall in between the end of hunting seasons and the start of spring fishing seasons.

This year is a little different as both the PA Game Commission and the PA Fish and Boat Commission have some new activities in their outdoor activity.

The PF&BC will start out with an early Mentored Youth Fishing Season for kids 15 and under on March 25. The kids will need a mentored youth permit, which is free, or a voluntary youth license that costs $2.97 and helps both the fishing program and allows the youths to have their own license to start. They also must be accompanied by an adult-licensed angler to complete the process. Kids can fish any approved trout waters and keep a two-trout limit after the 8 a.m. start up time, and remember only kids can fish!

Wind Turbine project

There is also some discussion on proposals on our Lake Erie waters for a Wind Turbine project. House Bill 254 (the Lake Erie Wind Energy Development Act) is being proposed as a clean energy plan for turbines located offshore from Erie. The Presque Isle Audubon Society and Lake Erie Foundation have some reservations about the proposals.

Lake Erie is a major song bird migration route and birds are prone to be killed or injured by the turbines offshore. The Red-Breasted Merganser is of particular concern in the wind turbine plan. Other issues surround the fear of oil leaks for water quality and fishing as well as lights on the turbines attracting migrating birds. This will be followed closely by the conservation groups.

Change in regulations

The PA Game Commission has a lot of off-season activities with changes in the hunting regulations. The end of the Pink Envelopes for antlerless deer license applications has come with Senate Bill 431, which was passed by both the Senate and the State House members. All future doe license applications will now be at the over-the-counter license sales or online with the PA Hunt/FISH site. Don’t know what to do with any leftover envelopes in your possession … they are now collector’s items!

Another bill being presented by Representative David Maloney Sr. of Berks County seeks to amend the PA Game Code on antler restrictions for senior hunters. Maloney is seeking to allow senior hunters to have the same rules as junior hunters, mentored youth hunters, disabled hunters and active-duty military hunters.

Those rules allow bucks to be harvested with two points on one side or spikes of 3 inches or longer to be legal bucks. This proposal would benefit both senior hunters, which make up a large portion of the hunting population, and aid in the concerns of CWD management. Senior hunters may reconsider their retirement from hunting pursuits with this change in the rules. Of course, each hunter can choose to exercise this change or continue to hunt for a wall hanger buck at their discretion.

Tame grouse phenomenon

I saw an interesting film on the phenomenon of tame grouse in the wild. The Ruffed Grouse is Pennsylvania’s State Bird and has fallen on hard times with many possible causes discussed. A new issue has been studied by the PGC. Lisa Williams, PGC Biologist, is researching the Tame Grouse reports that have emerged across the state.

It appears that grouse have exhibited unusual behaviors that include approaching people in the wild and exhibiting no fear of them. The PA Game Commission would like the aid of sports people who might encounter the birds in their outdoor travels.

The video to watch is being shown as Tame Grouse #Wild Sci PA. They would like GPS coordinates and locations. I encountered two grouse many years back that displayed fearless behavior when I was squirrel hunting. I decided that they must have been drunk from feeding on wild grapes that hung thickly form the oak trees that I had taken as my stand.

According to Williams, the grouse may be territorial and protecting their areas as they appear to be males of the species. Regardless, the video is a must watch for any wildlife enthusiast.

Volunteers sought

The Moraine Preservation Fund is seeking some volunteers and part-time help with their boat tours and gift shop. The MPF is a non-profit, volunteer organization that has supported wildlife projects at Moraine State Park with the Barn Owl and Osprey Reintroduction Program and Project BATitat.

Tours of Lake Arthur and the Butterfly Gardens Walking Trail also are longtime projects supported by the MPF. Don’t sit around waiting for something to happen … get out there and get involved with our community. Until we meet again, do something wild!

Jay Hewitt is an outdoors columnist for the Butler Eagle

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