The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 31, 2013

Bob Garrett's Talking Points: Be aware of elk in area


Daily Item

---- — Over the past four years, there have been 91 vehicle crashes involving elk that have resulted in either human injury or property damage. To educate motorists about the potential for these types of crashes, PennDOT has erected two life-sized steel elk silhouettes that show motorists the size of these animals and the danger that they can pose.

According to Gregory Sayers, who is the PennDOT Maintenance Manager headquartered in Clearfield, "The silhouettes are up to allow the public to actually pull into our Ridgway parking area with their vehicle and see how large the animals truly are." Mature elk can range from 800-1,000 pounds and Pennsylvania's elk herd now contains more than 800 animals spread over parts of Elk, Cameron, Clearfield, Clinton and Potter counties.

If you're going to be traveling in these areas, you might want to know that elk tend to behave a little differently than deer.

Often times, deer that come upon a roadway will get spooked by a vehicle and take off or dart across the road. Elk, on the other hand, frequently don't move at all. Given how huge elk can be, they're alone at the top of "growth chart" for mammals in our state

Naturally, their instinct is to stand their ground. They obviously don't know that we humans have the advantage of being wrapped with a ton steel, thanks to our vehicles. Here's a good rule of thumb: When in elk country, the elk have the right-of-way.

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Turkey season opens

Fall turkey season opens in most of our state Saturday. Turkey hunters who are preparing to head out this weekend should double-check the opening dates, closing dates and other regulations that apply within the Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) where they hunt.

Nearly all of the Wildlife Management Units in our area, including WMUs 2C, 2E, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E have a November 2-22 and a November 28-30 season.

In southeastern Pennsylvania there is no fall turkey season this year. In the unit that surrounds Gettysburg, the season has been shortened to only three days. North of us, the units only have a two-week season. Game Commission wild turkey biologist Mary Jo Casalena explained the seasons this way, "By switching season lengths between study areas, we can attempt to answer the question of whether the turkeys harvest gained or suffered by adding the extra week to a two-week season. Ultimately, the study results will allow us to provide the longest fall seasons to the largest number of hunters without overharvesting the hen wild turkeys."

The complete fall turkey season dates and regulations are outlined on Page 35 of your 2013-14 Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest.

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Humdinger of a contest

A Mifflintown man is once again sponsoring a fall-into-winter hummingbird contest for folks who live in Juniata, Mifflin, Perry and Snyder counties. If you live in these areas and you can confirm a hummingbird sighting between now and January 31, you may enter a contest that Chad Kauffman of Kauffman's Insurance Agency is sponsoring.

Kauffman explained that, "Fall and winter sightings of hummingbirds in our area are becoming more-and-more frequent. Nearly all of these sightings are of ruby-throated hummingbirds. However, during fall and winter other species of hummingbirds pass through Pennsylvania as they travel from breeding grounds in Alaska to wintering spots along the Gulf Coast." Kauffman is one of a growing number of ornithologists who are keenly interested in learning more about these nomadic and fascinating little birds. His contest is a fun way to multiply, many times over, the number of people who are keeping an eye out for migrating "hummers."

You can contact Kauffman by calling 717-436-8257 or through the contest's Facebook page.