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<span style="font-weight: bold">Northwest Region Field Report - December 21, 2012</span>

Butler County WCO Chip L. Brunst, during the first day of our September goose/dove season, was able to solve a two-year old mystery. “On this very day in 2010, I had then WCO Cadet Ronda Bimber riding with me for the day,” he said. “As the day neared an end, we heard a lot of shotgun reports. The shots kept going well after quitting time and resembled that of someone hunting doves. We searched hard until the shots finally ended, but did not find them. We even passed up supper at a friends’ Labor Day picnic trying to find them. Roll the clock forward to this years opening day of the goose/dove season, I’m now accompanied by WCO Cadet Byron Gibbs. Before the close of shooting hours, we decided to join friend, Ray Dean, at his annual picnic for a quick supper. While we sat there, Dean’s family and friends began to gather around his backyard trap range. Shots soon began. The shot pattern resembled that of dove hunters. Ray was asked if he does this every year and he said ‘Yes, it’s a family tradition.’ It would appear that had they taken the time to eat supper that evening in 2010, it would have saved a two-year mystery.”

Butler County WCO Chip L. Brunst was fortunate to have a partner for the entire rifle deer season. “WCO Cadet Mark Gritzer spent all of bear season and deer season with me,” he said. “This marked the end of the field assignments for RLSC Cadets. These young men and women now return to Harrisburg for another 12 weeks of classroom instruction. Although it is probably a bittersweet return to the classroom environment, I’m sure many are happy to get a full night sleep again. Bear and deer season for most WCOs usually means long hours of work and many miles of traveling. These Cadets now know what it feels like to go and go for days on end, hardly seeing family.”

Butler County WCO Christopher J. Deal noted there are still many opportunities for hunting in Butler County. “With a healthy deer herd, there are many opportunities to harvest that illusive trophy during either the late archery or muzzleloader seasons, or the antlerless firearm season that is still open in WMU 2B of southern Butler County,” he said. “Also, small game abounds with little hunting pressure. Trappers and/or hunters that choose to pursue furbearers will find great opportunities as well.”

Clarion County WCO Steven J. Ace said that this year was a very active deer season. “There were several nice bucks taken throughout the county,” he said. “However, along with the successful and unsuccessful hunters there were 95 percent law-abiding hunters and five percent non-law abiding individuals. There was a drastic increase in violations across the board in the county this year. There is only one of three explanations for this occurrence: one, I am getting better at my job; two; people are getting fed up with the illegal activities of others and giving helpful information to help catch them; or, three, violators are getting too comfortable and think they can do what they want and not get caught. However, after consideration there is a fourth variable to consider, the combination of all three, which is actually what I think the case is here. Thanks to everyone for all of your help this year.”

Erie County WCO Michael A. Girosky found an individual fishing within eight feet of two signs that said “NURSERY WATERS: fishing, wading, etc. is PROHIBITED.”

Erie County WCO Larry M. Smith observed numerous large, antlered bucks this year while on patrol. “Many of them were not harvested in the rifle season,” he said. “Consider going out after Christmas for the flintlock season. It should be a good year weather permitting.”

Forest County WCO Daniel P. Schmidt saw three large flocks of turkey the Monday after the rifle deer season. “Although I couldn’t get an exact count, the total was easily over 100 birds,” he said.

Forest County WCO Frank E. Leichtenberger thanks all of the concerned individuals who reported violations this year. “Because these folks decided to get involved, numerous crimes against wildlife were solved and the perpetrators brought to justice,” he said. “Far fewer of these crimes would be committed if more good people would make the same choice. In one case, two men who shot and wounded a buck one night during the first week of deer season were caught. In another, a man who shot a deer that did meet antler restrictions and left it in the woods was brought to justice. Also, numerous baiting cases were brought to light.”

Jefferson County WCO Roger A. Hartless, while conducting a routine field check of a hunter during the first week of rifle deer season, saw a small stamp-sized bag fall from his wallet and onto the ground. “The individual picked up the bag and, despite being instructed to hand it over, placed it into his mouth and swallowed it,” he said. “The individual said the bag contained a prescription drug that was given to him by someone else. The individual was charged for obstructing an investigation, which carries a fine under the Game and Wildlife Code of up to $1,500 and three months in jail.”

Mercer County WCO Donald G. Chaybin reports that a Hempfield Township man faces multiple charges after a neighbor called to report a shot fired in a residential area. “A local police officer responded and found an individual with an untagged antlerless deer that he shot,” he said. “The deer was shot about 50 yards from the caller’s home, and was well within the 150 yard safety zone of several nearby homes. One reason it wasn’t tagged is that this man didn’t have an antlerless deer license! He admitted that he saw this doe and another deer bedded down in the brushy ravine from his house and then went outside with his 30-06 rifle and shot the deer.”

Mercer County WCO Lawrence R. Hergenroeder reports hunting pressure on county SGLs was moderate on the first day of the concurrent firearms deer season. “A local 9-year-old mentored youth hunter took a nice antlerless deer in the morning and a five-point buck in the afternoon,” he said.

Mercer County WCO Lawrence R. Hergenroeder reminded hunters who harvested a deer to report their harvest within ten days of the date of harvest. “The Game Commission provides three methods to report: postage-paid paper report cards, on-line via the agency’s website or by toll-free telephone,” he said.

Venango County WCO Ronda J. Bimber found more hunters illegally using bait this season. “Many made the comment that the larger antlers they were seeing preseason on their trail cameras made them take the risk of getting caught using bait,” she said. “However, most felt it was not worth the risk after being told the fines and penalties.”

Venango County WCO Ronda J. Bimber found several “middle-aged” hunters this year who were new to the sport. “When asked if they had taken an HTE course most responded, ‘I didn’t know I had to,’” she said. “It is a violation of the Game and Wildlife Code for a first-time hunter, regardless of age, to purchase a license without first taking an HTE course. This then results in all game harvested being illegal as well.”

Butler/Lawrence Counties LMGS Jeffery T. Kendall reports winter habitat projects are underway. “There will be a good bit of hydroaxe cutting machine activity on SGL 95 in Butler County,” he said. “Plans are to have machines cut the invasive species such as multiflora rose, autumn olive, and honeysuckle to promote native plant growth. There will be about 110 acres cut on SGL 95 this winter alone. The machine is an excellent tool used to create native early successional habitat that is good for small game, ground nesting birds, and big game loves to bed in it.”

Crawford/Erie County LMGS Shayne A. Hoachlander said trappers looking for beaver trapping opportunities should look at SGLs 69 and 277, especially those that have the time and ability to trap away from the road.

Crawford County LMGS Jerry A. Bish reports the EHD outbreak in September certainly took its toll. “Hunting pressure was way down and those hunting in the Pymatuning area experienced poor luck,” he said. “However, this was confined to a small area and nearby hunters had good success.”

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<span style="font-weight: bold">Southwest Field Officer Report - December 21, 2012</span>

Allegheny County WCO Gary M. Fujak reports that after fourteen deer seasons as a Wildlife Conservation Officer a trend has developed when it comes to mistake kills. “Specifically, I have noticed mistake kills that involve a small-racked buck such as a spike or three point shot in mistake for a doe. Most if not all the affidavits written by hunters in this situation refer to how they saw this solitary deer apparently without any antlers on its head,” he said. “Hunters need to be aware that large deer that appear to be by themselves during deer season have a very good chance of being a buck. Doe and fawns during deer season tend to travel in groups of two, three or more. So when a hunter sees what he or she thinks to be a large doe by itself take the extra time to look the deer over for that small rack hidden near its ears.”

Allegheny County WCO Dan Puhala reports that a Westmoreland County man is facing charges for shooting a buck from the road. “When PGC Officers arrived at the individual’s home he was in the process of field dressing the untagged illegal deer near his residence. Thank you to the concerned hunter/witness who gave us a license plate number that we could follow up on,” he said.

Armstrong County WCO Gary Toward reports that the regular deer season had low hunter participation in his district. “Although weather conditions weren’t the very best, it wasn’t bad enough to have had a significant impact on the number of hunters in the field. Recurring themes while talking to hunters is many say they can only hunt for a few hours in the morning as they have family commitments in the afternoon,” he said.

Armstrong County WCO Gary Toward cited three Butler County individuals for killing a deer at night through the use of a spotlight. “While approaching their vehicle to do a traffic stop for late spotlighting, I witnessed a passenger, who was still inside the vehicle, shoot an antlerless deer that was standing just off of the roadway. Assisting in the investigation were Butler County Officers Chris Deal, Skip Wagle, Terry Beer and Armstrong County WCO Rod Burns,” he said. “The three occupants have been charged with numerous game law violations and are facing stiff penalties including the loss of hunting and trapping privileges in Pennsylvania and Wildlife Violator Compact states for several years.”

Armstrong County WCO Gary Toward has filed charges against four men in two separate incidents of road hunting. “In both cases, the individuals used a motor vehicle to locate deer and then the passenger got out and shot an antlerless deer while he was still standing on the roadway. Information provided by concerned witness resulted in successful investigations in both cases,” he said.

Armstrong County WCO Gary Toward reports he received a call for bear damage to bee hives on the third day of deer season. “With the bear season just over, and a fairly low harvest in Armstrong County, complaints of bear damage are expected to up considerably next spring and summer,” he said.

Armstrong County WCO Rod Burns reports that he is prosecuting four different individuals for killing sub-legal bucks and not reporting them. “In all the instances the deer were removed from where they were killed, not tagged and never reported. The mistake kill process is easy to understand and following the rules easier, but first the hunters have to WANT to do the right thing,” he said.

Armstrong County WCO Rod Burns reports that roadhunting calls were down this year even though there is evidence that it is still a major problem. “Nice weather during deer season was a major factor in hunters getting out of their cars and pursuing deer legally. But even with the good weather, traffic really picked up on back roads the last hour of daylight and it is hard not to notice that windows are down and vehicles brake lights come on at every vantage point where there might be a deer,” he said.

WCO Cadet Jesse Bish, while on assignment with Armstrong County WCO Rod Burns, reports that preliminary deer harvests in the county appear to be down this year. The combination of warm weather and lack of hunters in areas resulted minimal successful deer hunters checked this season.

WCO Cadet Jesse Bish, while on assignment with Armstrong County WCO Rod Burns, reports that although rifle deer season was slow this year, violations such as unlawfully taken deer, tagging violations, loaded firearms in vehicles and hunting without a license were encountered.

WCO Cadet Brian Sheetz, while working on field assignment in Indiana County with WCO Patrick Snickles, reports having a very busy two week deer season. “There were numerous citations filed for loaded firearms in vehicles. I would like to remind all hunters to make sure your firearms are unloaded before putting it in, on, or against a vehicle,” he said.

WCO Cadet Brian Sheetz, while working on field assignment in Indiana County with WCO Patrick Snickles, would like to thank all the concerned citizens that called in to report shots fired from a vehicle along with an accurate description of the vehicle and license plate. That information led to the arrest of two individuals and 4 illegal deer.

Washington County WCO Chris Bergman reports that even though the fall turkey flock was abundant throughout my districts, hunting pressure was light during the fall turkey season.

Washington County WCO Chris Bergman reports on violations encountered during the regular firearms deer season. “Some of the violations that I have encountered or investigated in Fayette and Washington Counties consisted of unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife and unlawful killing or taking of big game. Also encountered were numerous violations relating to not wearing the required fluorescent orange clothing, hunting in a baited areas, loaded firearms in, on, or against a vehicle, and tagging violations,” he said.

Westmoreland County WCO Brian Singer reports charges have been filed on a man from Port Vue for killing an antlerless deer on the opening day of the 2012 rifle deer season. “The man was hunting in WMU 2C an antlered only WMU on the first day. He shot the deer while it was standing in front of a corn feeder and his picture was caught on the trail camera that someone else had placed overlooking the feeder,” he said. “Before we could identify the individual from the photo, we found him hunting again in the same location on the first Saturday of rifle season – this time with his 15 year old son. Both father and son were standing over the same pile of corn when we confronted them and matched the man to the photo we had,” he added.

Westmoreland County WCO Brian Singer reports that information from the public reporting on poaching violations have proven to be instrumental in apprehending and convicting those who steal wildlife. “In some cases just a tip is all that is needed to secure a conviction in a case. In other cases one’s eye-witness testimony is required to show the judge the facts of a case. I often hear from informants that they are afraid to testify for fear of retaliation from the poacher. While this may be a valid concern, there are additional laws in place to protect those witnesses against retaliation. Officers are willing to do the difficult job of apprehending and dealing with wildlife poachers, but sometimes we need some backup from the public as well,” he said.

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<span style="font-weight: bold">Northcentral Field Officer Report - December 21, 2012</span>

Lycoming County WCO Harold Cole spoke to quite a few individuals this year that had questions on very basic laws concerning hunting while they were out hunting. “Most of the questions people had are easily answered in the Hunting and Trapping Digest they received when they purchased their license,” he said. “Please remember there are usually some changes each year that you need to be aware of before you go out hunting; that is why the digest is published and includes an ‘Updates’ section after the index page. The digest also is available on the Game Commission’s website.”

Tioga County WCO Rodney P. Mee had WCO Cadets Jeffrey Oleniacz and Doug Barrick from the 29th Class during November. “During the WCO Cadet’s field assignments in Tioga County, the new officers investigated many road-hunting violations, five pre-season poaching incidents and several Act 54 over-the-bag limit incidents,” he said.

Cameron/Clearfield Counties LMGS Colleen M. Shannon and her Food and Cover Corps crews had numerous instances during deer season of loaded firearms in vehicles and people shooting at wildlife from roadways. “In one case, a woman was preparing to take her young kids out for the school bus when a guy pulled up near the house and fired a shot from the car at a deer,” she said. “He was within 50 yards of this house and 100 yards from another house. The lady called in a description of the vehicle and he was apprehended nearby. He had shot at a doe even though he did not have an antlerless license. This type of behavior is egregious and must be stopped. Thank goodness the witness called promptly so we could teach the hunter the error of his ways.”

Cameron/Clearfield Counties LMGS Colleen M. Shannon said Clearfield County Farm-Game Manager Robert Hepler continued to make contacts with landowners around the new parcels of SGL 87, and has successfully enrolled more property in the agency’s Hunter Access Program. “Always ask permission to hunt on private land, even if you see the PGC signs there, and remember to thank the landowner for the opportunity,” she said.

Potter County WCO Mark S. Fair said the most common violation this bear season and the overlapping bear/deer seasons is the unlawful use of bait. “Seven individuals were cited as a result of hunting in a baited area,” he said. “Bait items included minerals, corn, donuts, apples, pears, sunflowers and peanut butter smeared on a tree.”

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<span style="font-weight: bold">Southcentral Field Officer Report - December 21, 2012</span>

Cumberland County WCO Tim Wenrich reports 54 students were certified at the Mechanicsburg Sportsman’s Association HTE class held in November.

Cumberland County WCO Tim Wenrich continues to receive bear complaints in Middlesex, Silver Spring, and North Middleton townships. “Bird feeders were the common denominator in all off the incidents we investigated,” he said.

Cumberland County WCO Tim Wenrich reports numerous shooting range violations have been adjudicated, as well as a variety of other hunting and non-hunting violations that occurred in October and November. “Additionally, this season has been particularly wrought with unlawfully taken deer incidents,” he said. “We’ve concluded investigations on many and charges are pending. They include shooting from the road and vehicle, killing deer without valid licenses and taking deer in closed season.”

Cumberland County WCO Tim Wenrich said a recently adjudicated case involved an individual unlawfully killing a skunk. “The individual chased it down, after it sprayed him, and bludgeoned it to death,” he said. “However, the issue that sparked numerous witnesses to report the incident was that he displayed it, by hanging it from his chain link fence directly adjacent to a neighborhood sidewalk.”

Cumberland County WCO John Fetchkan reports there seems to have been more violations during the first week of rifle deer season compared to last. “Deputy WCOs from Cumberland and Franklin counties have encountered many incidents which will involve the subjects receiving multiple citations,” he said. “We investigated an incident where a person stopped his vehicle, jumped out, shot a doe while in several safety zones all while a school bus was letting a student off the bus about 30 yards away. Also the deer died in the student’s driveway.”

Perry/Juniata Counties WCO Steve Hower reports several people have been charged with killing deer in closed season here. “A buck was shot during the early antlerless only muzzleloader season in October and several doe were shot during the antlered only rifle season,” he said. “Those charged face mandatory fines of $1,000 to $1,500 per deer and loss of hunting privileges.”

York County WCO Kyle Jury said the rifle deer season was busier than ever in the northern York district. “With all but small portions of the district outside of the designated CWD Disease Management Area, compliance with the mandatory check station seems to be very high,” he said. “Many deer I checked in the field already made their way to the check station in East Berlin or one of the cooperating processors.”

York County WCO Kyle Jury reports violations encountered during the deer season range from unlawful taking of big game to hunting over bait and everything in between. “Please be sure to report violations when encountered in the field to the Southcentral Region Office at 814-643-1831. Hunter and public safety is our primary goal and any instances that may put either party in danger should be reported.”

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<span style="font-weight: bold">Northeast Field Officer Report - December 21, 2012</span>

Northumberland County WCO Jason Kelley reports encountering modest hunter numbers during the first several days of the 2012 firearms season. “I handled several violations, including damage to trees on SGL 84, hunting without having passed a basic HTE class, improperly tagging big game, shooting a person and causing injury, and possessing a loaded firearm in a moving motorized vehicle,” he said.

Sullivan County WCO Rick Finnegan reports the end of the regular firearms deer season is followed by mountains of paperwork, as many cases still are under investigation. “Complaints about road hunting were coming in almost daily this year,” he said. “Other major violations were deer that not tagged properly, having loaded guns in vehicles and hunting without a license.”

Columbia County WCO John A. Morack recently cited an individual for unlawfully leaving paper targets on target back-boards after using the rifle range located on SGL 58. The fine and costs for doing so totaled $169.

WCO Cadet Steven Knickel reports that the ten weeks came and went so fast. “I would like to thank WCOs Seth Mesoras, Jim McCarthy and Phil White,” he said. “I did not have a single bad day while on field training and it is all thanks to these officers. Thanks for giving my career such an amazing jump start. Hope to see you all at graduation.”

WCO Cadet Steven Knickel, working with WCO Monroe County WCO Phil White, reports that, on the first day of rifle deer season, he joined a team of Game Commission officers that entered a heavily-baited camp. “Four individuals were cited for hunting through the use of bait, others were issued warnings, and a significant portion of the large camp was closed to hunting for the remainder of the season,” he said.

WCO Cadet Steven Knickel, working with Monroe County WCO Phil White, reports several individuals have been found using either last years tags, someone else’s tags, non-completed tags, or not using tags on their deer at all. Citations were filed in all cases.

WCO Cadet Steven Knickel, working with Monroe County WCO Phil White, reports that four individuals were cited for riding ATVs on SGLs. “ATVs are considered motorized vehicle and do extreme amounts of damage to wildlife habitats,” he said.

WCO Cadet Steven Knickel, working with Monroe County WCO Phil White, reports witnessing several shooting range violations. “All SGL range users must follow range regulations, including possessing a valid hunting license or range permit,” he said.

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<span style="font-weight: bold">Southeast Field Officer Report - December 21, 2012</span>

Berks County WCO Matt Teehan reports that the two weeks of the statewide firearm season showed a decrease in minor violations as compared to previous years, but high rise in the number of major violations. “So far, we have 14 illegal deer cases resolved and another one pending,” he said. “Numerous safety zone incidents and hunting without the required licenses topped out the bulk of violations encountered in this district. We also had numerous requests from officers in other districts from across the state to assist in investigations involving people from this area. There was also a rise in violations involving HUI, DUI, possession of controlled substances, Title 18 offenses for reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct and a multitude of spotlighting violations.”

Bucks County WCO John Papson successfully prosecuted an individual for the unlawful killing of a bear out of season, several cases involving individuals using bait, untagged or improperly tagged deer, loaded firearms in vehicles and numerous other violations.

Chester County WCO Scott Frederick recently filed charges on an individual who placed an antlerless tag on a buck that had obviously had its antlers bludgeoned off of its head. “It was discovered during the interview, that when the hunter realized he had killed a protected buck, he panicked and made the poor decision to remove the antlers and then place a doe tag on it and try to pass it off as a legal harvest,” he said. “This move failed him.”

Chester County WCO Keith Mullin checked two hunters who did not have hunting licenses or enough orange material and were hunting after hours. Charges will be filed.

Lebanon County WCO Michael Reeder had several cases of individuals possessing last year’s license or tagging a deer with an old license. “Please remember to remove your old license and only carry the current one,” he said. “This will save you from making a tagging mistake and possibly a fine.”

Northampton County WCO Brad Kreider comments that it should be a record bear harvest for Northampton County after the archery and extended bear seasons are totaled.

Northampton County WCO Brad Kreider reports that snow geese have been feeding in the Lehigh Valley by the thousands using the quarries to roost at night.

Northampton County WCO Brad Kreider reports that a second peregrine falcon was found dead at Martins Creek Power Plant. “This peregrine was an adult female that hadn’t been banded, so no history or record is available,” he said.

Northampton County WCO Brad Kreider reports that trappers and hunters have harvested numerous coyotes throughout the county.

Schuylkill County WCO Kevin Clouser reports a few hunters were surprised to see him in deer season. “They were over a mile in on foot, when they were asked to explain an illegal deer,” he said.

Schuylkill County WCO Kevin Clouser made several positive field contacts with both junior and mentored youth this season.

WCO Cadet Chris Reidmiller, working with WCO Scott Frederick in Chester County, has encountered numerous violations involving not reporting mistake killed deer. “Hunters should know that regardless of the circumstances of the mistake, they need to report it within 24 hours to a commission office,” he said. “Failure to do so may lead to fines and loss of the deer.”

Southeast Regional Field Forester Jonathan Weaver comments that hunters are a resourceful lot. “I have been surprised by the variety of methods used to attach tags to harvested deer,” he said. “Some hunters prefer the natural route using things such as vine honeysuckle or sticks. Boot laces are very common. I also have seen surgical gloves used, although I’m not sure how they got it through the hole in the tag or tied it to the ear. The weirdest one I have seen so far though is the waist band from a pair of underwear. That one makes me scratch my head.”
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