HARRISBURG, PA - In an effort to protect wildlife habitat, the Pennsylvania Game Commission plans to spray more than 62,000 acres of state game lands this spring.
Spraying will occur on 27 different state game lands – 62,934 acres in all – and will begin as soon as leaf-out occurs and spongy moth egg masses hatch, likely in late April and May.
“Those participating in spring gobbler seasons or otherwise enjoying state game lands may encounter aircraft spraying forested areas for spongy moths,” said Paul Weiss, Game Commission chief forester. “We recognize some hunters might be temporarily affected by these activities, but disturbances are brief and only temporary, and by protecting these valuable habitats against a destructive, invasive pest, the forests will provide hunters the opportunity to chase gobblers there for generations to come.”
Spongy moths previously were known by the common name gypsy moth, but the Entomological Society of America changed the name in March. More information on spongy moths and the Game Commission’s spraying program, including a map updating the status of this year’s spraying, is available on an interactive web page at www.pgc.pa.gov.
Most of the blocks of forest to be sprayed on game lands can be treated within one day, often within only a few hours.
The insecticide to be used is Mimic 2LV. Its active ingredient is tebufenozide.
This agent generally is considered safe to humans. Most negative side effects happen with repeated, long-term exposure to high concentrations of the product. As with any chemical, it may cause eye or skin irritation if exposed, and it is recommended to wash any affected area if irritation occurs.
The forests to be treated in the coming weeks have building populations of spongy moths that, if left untreated, could cause severe defoliation this summer.
This year’s spraying will occur in the following regions: Southcentral, 4,087 acres; Northcentral, 44,635 acres, Northwest, 11,287 acres, and Northeast, 2,926 acres. Spraying occurred in the Southwest Region last year, and the population there seems to be in decline so no spraying is scheduled there. The Southeast Region, which showed little to no spongy-moth population build-up, likewise is not slated for spraying at this time.
Weiss noted that previous spongy-moth impacts unfortunately led forests on state game lands to transition from mast-producing mixed-oak stands to stands dominated by birch and maple, which are not nearly as beneficial to wildlife.
“Oaks are the main target of spongy moths, and they also provide the best and most reliable foods for wildlife,” Weiss said. “Unfortunately, in some areas, we have seen birch and maple replace the oak stands lost to past spongy-moth defoliation. This loss of acorn availability across such a potentially large area can have extremely detrimental impacts on wildlife populations, ranging from chipmunks and squirrels all the way up to deer and bears. Even if the oak trees manage to survive damage caused by this defoliation, the reduction of acorn production can linger for years after. The Game Commission has made the decision to aggressively treat this problem to protect the wildlife resources in the immediate future and over the longer term.”
This year, due to the expansion of spongy moths across the state and the increased need for spraying across multiple lands, the Game Commission will conduct its own spraying program and has allocated over $1,236,000 from its Pittman-Robertson Federal Wildlife Grant funding to cover the costs of the effort.
David Gustafson, who heads the Game Commission’s Bureau of Wildlife Habitat Management, noted that, with how valuable oaks on state game lands are to wildlife, the agency simply can’t afford to forgo spraying this year.
“We know that oak forest habitats are tremendously valuable to all wildlife,” Gustafson said. “Everything from squirrels to bears to turkeys will have populations fluctuate based on acorn crops. Bears depend on fall mast like acorns to build up important fat reserves for the winter months. Deer survival and reproduction can improve during years with good acorn crops. Neo-tropical birds, such as cerulean warblers, occupy habitats dominated by oaks. Wild turkey and ruffed grouse populations also benefit from acorns.”
Broken down by region, following is a listing of each State Game Lands (SGL) scheduled for spraying and the acreage scheduled for spraying.
SGL 166, in Blair County, 2,356 acres
SGL 147, in Blair County, 1,731 acres
SGL 116, in Pike County, 242 acres
SGL 180, in Pike County, 2,684 acres
SGL 14, in Cameron County, 4,724 acres
SGL 33, in Centre County, 1,894 acres
SGL 37, in Tioga County, 5,772 acres
SGL 61, in McKean County, 546 acres
SGL 64, in Potter County, 1,660 acres
SGL 68, in Lycoming County, 1,332 acres
SGL 75, in Lycoming County, 7,868 acres
SGL 92, in Centre County, 1,481 acres
SGL 100, in Centre County, 5,720 acres
SGL 103, in Centre County, 3,175 acres
SGL 176, in Centre County, 1,621 acres
SGL 208, in Tioga County, 3,797 acres
SGL 293, in Elk County, 506 acres
SGL 295, in Centre County, 1,982 acres
SGL 298, in Lycoming County, 902 acres
SGL 311, in Elk County, 677 acres
SGL 321, in Clinton County, 978 acres
SGL 29, in Warren County, 4,004 acres
SGL 31, in Jefferson County, 575 acres
SGL 54, in Jefferson County, 3,086 acres
SGL 74, in Jefferson County, 730 acres
SGL 86, in Warren County, 2,758 acres
SGL 309, in Warren County, 134 acres
109 Blocks 62,934 acres
MEDIA CONTACT: Travis Lau - 717-705-6541
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