Outdoors notebook: New license plates, changes to youth trout program coming in 2015
The executive directors of the Pennsylvania Game and Fish and Boat commissions offered up bits of news this past week.
Matt Hough, executive director at Game, said license plates aimed at sportsmen could be available as early as Jan. 1. Featuring an image of a white-tailed deer, they also mention Pennsylvania’s “hunting heritage.”
They will be offered through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Cost hasn’t been determined, but Hough said the board will make that decision in the next few weeks.
PennDOT will get enough of the money to cover its costs. One-third of the remaining proceeds will go the state’s Hunters Sharing the Harvest program, which takes deer donated by hunters and gives the venison to places such as soup kitchens and food banks. The other two-thirds will go to the commission, which will use it to support in-house and outside youth shooting and hunting programs, Hough said.
“We’re hoping hunters will buy the plates and show their support for Pennsylvania’s hunting heritage,” Hough said.
John Arway, executive director of Fish and Boat, said the agency soon will announce it is expanding its mentored-youth trout fishing program.
In the past, the commission allowed licensed anglers to take a youngster with either a voluntary youth license or a free permit to a handful of pre-selected stocked trout waters and fish them the Saturday before opening day. Last year, many of the waters still were iced over, forcing the commission to push back the day and likely limiting participation, Arway said.
In 2015, the commission will allow mentors and youth to fish its stocked trout waters anywhere in the state on youth day.
The hope, Arway said, is that adults and children will share a day together, at the site of their choosing, and perhaps ignite a spark to fish more often.
“It’s more about creating about an experience than creating an event,” Arway said.
The program’s other rules, such as the one allowing adults and children can keep two trout each on the youth day, will remain in place, he said.
Hoping for full funding
A former Fish and Boat Commissioner had a request for those currently serving.
Don Anderson of Somerset County said the commission has had a grant program for cooperative nurseries, which use their own time and labor to raise trout and other fish supplied by the commission for stocking in public waters since 1998. It once offered $60,000 annually to sportsmen’s clubs. Now, it offers $30,000 per year.
With perhaps as many as six new nurseries coming online next year, Anderson asked that the program be restored to full funding.
“I think it would do a lot of good,” he said.
Commissioners tasked their co-op work group with providing a recommendation.
Hunters who shoot a bear in the firearms deer season in wildlife management unit 2C — doing so is legal, from Dec. 3-6 — still need to take it to a Game Commission check station.
Hunters can check a bear at the commission’s southwest region office at 4820 Route 711 North, about 7 miles north of Ligonier, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Dec. 3-5, and noon-8 p.m. Dec. 6.
Bears can also be checked in at the New Centerville Rural Fire Department in Somerset County, on Route 281 in New Centerville. It will be open only two days: noon-8 p.m. Dec. 3 and Dec. 6.
During the debate about whether to adopt a user permit required of people riding mountain bikes, snowmobiles and horses on state game lands, dog mushers asked to be exempt from the rules. Several said they run sled dogs, which pull a bicycle-like cart called a “dog scooter” or “dog rig,” on game lands and don’t want any barriers to participation erected.
No one was aware dog mushers were using the game lands.
“That was a new one for me,” said Bill Capioullez, director of its bureau of habitat protection.