HARRISBURG, PA - The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today met in Bolivar at its final meeting of 2021. Meeting highlights appear below.
STATUS CHANGED FOR TWO RAPTORS
One Pennsylvania raptor today was placed on the state’s endangered-species list, while another previously classified as a threatened species was upgraded.
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today placed the northern goshawk on the state’s endangered-species list, and removed the peregrine falcon from the state’s threatened species list.
The adopted changes reflect the strikingly different population trends for goshawks and peregrines.
The northern goshawk, which in Pennsylvania is at the southern limits of its range in the Northeast, has experienced range contraction and a dramatic population decline in the past 20 years. Classifying the northern goshawk as an endangered species further protects it by limiting or delaying certain activities within northern goshawk breeding habitat during courtship and nesting seasons.
A large secretive raptor of mature, mixed forests, the northern goshawk is found in Pennsylvania’s northern tier and at high elevations across the state.
Meanwhile, the peregrine falcon, which was upgraded from endangered- to threatened-species status in 2019, has continued to see population increases. The recommendation for its upgrade was based on the Game Commission’s 2013-2022 Peregrine Falcon Management Plan, which establishes objectives for the species’ recovery that now have been achieved.
The change signals a significant conservation victory after 40 years of recovery action in Pennsylvania and nationally, in which the Game Commission has played an active role. The peregrine falcon the third high-profile raptor recovery in Pennsylvania, following the delisting of the bald eagle and osprey – demonstrating that placing a species on the endangered or threatened list is not a permanent designation, and recovery is an achievable goal.
The Board of Commissioners also gave final approval to a separate motion that’s intended to provide the peregrine falcon additional protection now that it’s off the threatened-species list. As part of the penalty for killing a threatened species, a $5,000 replacement cost can be assessed. But when a recovered animal comes off the threatened-species list, the replacement cost drops to just $200, unless regulatory changes are made to increase it.
For this reason, the board adjusted regulations so a $2,500 replacement cost applies.
AMENDMENT REFLECTS CHANGES IN ELK HUNTER ORIENTATION
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave preliminary approval to a measure that will update pre-season requirements for hunters who are drawn for Pennsylvania elk licenses.
The Game Commission always provides training to elk hunters prior to the start of the hunting season.
Originally, training was provided through an in-person orientation that, over the years, transitioned to hunters receiving necessary instructions by mail with their licensing materials. The proposed change will update regulations to reflect the existing process.
The measure will be brought back to the January meeting for a final vote.
BOARD ADOPTS BOBWHITE QUAIL MANAGEMENT PLAN
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners on Friday reviewed public comments submitted on the agency’s draft Northern Bobwhite Quail Management Plan, and today adopted the plan, which will guide efforts over the next 10 years to restore this native species, once common in Pennsylvania but missing from our landscape since the late 20th to early 21st century.
“The Pennsylvania Game Commission and partner organizations have taken great strides in recent years to create suitable habitat for bobwhite at our focus area, the Letterkenny Army Depot in Franklin County, and we are committed to re-establishing a wild population in the Commonwealth,” said Game Commission quail biologist Andrew Ward.
Increases in grassland songbirds and American woodcock have already been documented at Letterkenny, indicating that the habitat conditions are becoming more conducive to supporting a self-sustaining quail population. The management plan outlines strategies to maintain and expand these habitat improvements, translocate wild quail to Letterkenny following established best practices, and monitor populations and habitats post-reintroduction. The plan will also guide work to inform and educate the public, carry out cooperative projects with partners, and extend the restoration effort to other suitable areas in the vicinity of Letterkenny.
“The Game Commission’s strategic plan sets a goal of reintroducing bobwhite quail to Pennsylvania by 2023, and today’s adoption of the Northern Bobwhite Quail Management Plan is a critical step in achieving that goal and restoring this species to the Commonwealth” said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans.
BOARD THANKS LAYTON FOR SERVICE
Commissioner Tim Layton, who represents District 4 comprising Bedford, Blair, Cambria Fulton, Huntingdon and Somerset counties, today served at his last meeting of the Board of Game Commissioners.
The Game Commission and fellow commissioners took the opportunity to thank him for his service, his leadership and the enthusiasm with which he approached his role.
Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans said Layton navigated many tough issues, performing “superbly” throughout his eight-year term, which began in June 2013. Layton’s fellow commissioners thanked him not only for his service, but the guidance and mentorship he provided.
District 2 Commissioner Dennis Fredericks pointed out Layton served two terms as board President, demonstrating the confidence the board had in him.
Layton said he’s proud to have served, and his term as commissioner provided the opportunity to work with many dedicated people within the Game Commission. Everything they do improves the agency and benefits wildlife, he said.
“I wish you the best,” Layton said.
ACREAGE ADDED TO GAME LANDS
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today approved two land deals that will add more than 130 acres to state game lands.
The board approved adding more than 117 acres to State Game Lands 48 in Londonderry Township, Bedford County. The land is being transferred by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy for an option price of $400 per acre, to be paid from the Game Fund.
The board also voted to accept the donation of one-third interest in three tracts totaling nearly 14 acres, which adjoin or are near State Game Lands 168 in Lehigh Township, Northampton County. The donation was offered by Rodney and Judith Holzer.
Additionally, the board voted to accept nearly 2 acres of permanent right-of-way, and a small amount of temporary right-of-way, from five neighboring property owners who will provide over half a mile of public road access into State Game Lands 198 in Cambria County.
Sunoco Pipeline LP coordinated the conveyance of these rights-of-way, and will also see to it that various hunter-access improvements within the permanent right-of-way and on the game lands be completed as required by the company’s 2016 license for right-of-way authorizing natural gas liquids pipelines on State Game Lands 198.
MEDIA CONTACT: Travis Lau - 717-705-6541
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