The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


August 25, 2012

Don Steese's Outdoors column: Pa. success stories

ALLENWOOD — Spent most of last week up at our cabin in northern Pennsylvania. Spent almost all the time working around the cabin so we didn’t see a lot of wildlife, but I did see a nice buck, still in velvet, and a flock of turkeys. It’s getting so that you expect to see turkeys every time you head out into the forests of Pennsylvania. Anymore they don’t even rate much of a comment. It’s like, “Ho hum, another big flock of turkeys.” Wild turkeys have been a real wildlife success story, both here and throughout north America.

I’m constantly hearing about turkeys spreading into areas where, just a few years ago there were none. My buddy from New Brunswick was telling me they’re starting to see them in that Atlantic province. Turkey hunting has become the second most popular hunting activity in most places where there’s a season on them. I’m told that if you call in an old gobbler for the first time, you’ll be hooked for life. Maybe next spring I’ll find out.

Speaking of wildlife success stories, the peregrine falcon is doing very well here in Pennsylvania, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The birds had a good nesting season this year according to Dr. Arthur McMorris, PGC peregrine falcon program coordinator.

“We confirmed 32 pairs of falcons nesting across the commonwealth, and 22 of them bred successfully, raising 62 young falcons,” Dr. McMorris said. “ Also we banded 42 of the young falcons in an ongoing effort to assist the recovery of the population. These numbers compare well with those of last year, when 32 pairs raised 68 offspring.”

Peregrines are found in 15 counties here in Pennsylvania with most of the population concentration in the Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre areas of the state.

Peregrines mate for life but will re-mate if their original mate dies. They nest at the same site year after year and here in Pennsylvania they leave their nesting site very rarely, if at all, during the entire winter. That fact makes it much easier for people who enjoy seeing these impressive birds to do so throughout the year. Exciting when you consider the paregrine was a bird on the brink of extinction not so very long ago.

In 1986, the first nesting pair of peregrine falcons in Pennsylvania in 25 years was found in the Philadelphia area. Since then the number has gradually increased to this years total of 32 nesting pairs. Peregrine falcons were removed from the federal endangered species list in 1999, but they remain on the endangered species list in Pennsylvania and most eastern states.

I’m always happy to see wildlife of any kind doing well, be it game or non-game, but with the severe reduction in the white-tailed deer population in many areas of the state, I do see increasing numbers of Pennsylvania hunters expressing the view that the PGC should spend less time and money on non-game species and more on species like the white-tailed deer. These same people will probably adhere to the view that a big deer population is as important, or even more important, than forest regeneration. It’s the hunters, they say, that pay the bills at the PGC. I may not agree with their views, but it’s hard to argue that simple fact.


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