Washington County Sportsmen and Conservation League
©1998 Washington County Sportsmen and Conservation League
Member Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs
Affiliated with The
National Rifle Association of America
PFSC 2018 Spring Convention March 16-18
Lou and I attended the annual PFSC spring convention in Harrisburg this past weekend. The board meeting was held on Friday and John Kline talked about a number of bills in Harrisburg regarding hunting, fishing, and conservation. The annual Second Amendment rally will be held on April 30th this year and it will be good to maximize our attendance as he expects a number of bills regarding gun control to be introduced soon as a result of what happened in Florida. Some things being discussed are:
Ban on certain types of guns
Expansion of background checks
Arming school district personnel
Magazine capacity and other features
Extreme Risk Protection Orders
Another issue discussed was the use of medical cannabis which is now legal in PA. Cannabis is a controlled substance according to federal law and possession and/or use prohibits one from possessing a firearm. This will be a problem for gun owners in Pennsylvania until the federal law is changed or amended.
A bill that specifies the length of time the Executive Director of the Fish and Boat Commission is able to serve is alive and being pushed by several members. SB-135, the bill allowing the use of dogs to track wounded deer, bear, and elk has passed both houses and awaits the Governor’s signature. Bills that address funding for the PGC and the Fish and Boat Comm. are languishing with no desire by the legislators to move these bills. Bills to merge the Fish and Game Commissions are still viable but no serious interest at this time. Paula Piatt is working on sending each member club a monthly update on legislative issues.
Mike Kaufmann, the area Fisheries Manager for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission spoke on Saturday. He talked about the fishing on Lake Erie. The perch population is about average, 6 years ago it hit a peak. The steelhead and walleye populations are about as good as it gets and as a result he expects the smolt survival to suffer because they provide good forage for the walleye. The commission will be stocking larger trout (18-24”) in in the delayed harvest areas this year.
Snakeheads have been reported in the Delaware River above the tidal areas and also in a few lakes near Philadelphia.
Bryan Burhans also spoke on Saturday. He reported that the PGC manages 480 species of wildlife in PA and 109 of them are of conservation concern. Any commercial activity that loses hunting land must be replaced and the Western PA Conservancy donates considerable toward the acquisition game lands. The PGC has 650 total employees, 300 deputies, and over 2,000 hunter Ed instructors. The commission will bring the pheasant production up to 220,000 birds this year with funding from a grant.
The subject of CWD was extensively covered. Bryan noted that in Wisconsin, where CWD was first reported in 2002 now has a 45 to 50% infection rate in some areas. The Wisconsin DNR attempted to control the spread by harvesting the deer but complaints from hunters caused the Governor to shut down the killing of deer in the infected areas. Here in PA, after the latest positive test a 3 square mile area was designated for the USDA sharpshooters. Less than 100 deer were killed. A new DMA #4 has been set up in Lancaster Co. where there was a recent positive test of a captive animal. DMA #1 has been dissolved because there has not been a positive test in 5 years.
The West Nile virus is taking a toll on ruffed grouse. He noted that there are 185,000 bear hunters in PA. He also noted that PA is in the top 3 states in the country for number of bucks killed per square mile and # doe killed per square mile.
Greg Isabella, a former PGC board member and owner of a large gun store near Philadelphia spoke at the firearms session. He said that New Jersey will probably outlaw ARs and high capacity mags, Maryland will probably follow. Greg sees the “Trump slump” in black rifles and accessories but not in other firearms. Black rifles picked up a bit after Florida. He sees 9mm ammo as getting scarce again because police departments are converting. Remington went into chapter 11 protection but got good financing. A new corporation may buy them out. Their problem was faulty management. The Hazelton and Scranton school districts have installed metal detectors at all doors.
The general session was held on Sunday. The vote on the issues noted in my last newsletter was as follows:
Do you support legislation that would:
The delegates also voted to support the use of infra-red scopes for predator hunting and to oppose changing the Allegheny National Forest to a park.
An organization called “Hunters United for Sunday Hunting” has been formed. They have a website:
https://huntsunday.boards.net/ . If you join they will email updates on the issue. Check out the website.
The Auditor General’s audit of the PGC was a topic of discussion among many of the members attending the convention. Bryan Burhans welcomes the audit. It may be the only way to shut up the dissenters. As a result, the NW Division of the PFSC has written a letter to the Auditor General concerning the proposed audit which is attached at the end of this report.
Last week in Washington D.C., four members of the Senate Agriculture Committee - Senators Joni Ernst (IA), Chuck Grassley (IA), Sherrod Brown (OH) and Bob Casey (PA) - introduced Senate Bill 2557 that will drastically impact CRP, upland wildlife, and your ability to find quality places to hunt. It's bad news for you as a hunter and wildlife advocate.
Call today and let YOUR SENATORS know that YOU OPPOSE the CRP language in Senate Bill 2557 for the following reasons:
SB 2557 keeps the CRP acreage cap at a historic low of 24 million acres nationwide. Instead, we need an expansion of CRP!
It eliminates current and future eligibility of some lands that benefit upland wildlife, including CRP lands that have historically been open to the public as “walk-in areas.”
Here are the addresses and phone numbers:
Casey, Robert P., Jr.
393 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
Toomey, Patrick J.
248 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
Letter to the Auditor General
North Central Division of the PFSCs and Sportsmen
President Phil Labant
St. Marys, PA 15857
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale
Department of the Auditor General
613 North St, Room 229
Harrisburg, PA 17210-0018
Dear Auditor General Eugene DePasquale:
We had the opportunity to review the video of you announcing the audit of the PGC as shown on Youtube. “We” are the North Central Division of the PFSC, and represent 2,119 members. Our leaders unanimously agreed to send you this letter.
As sportsmen and women of Pennsylvania, we are saddened and disillusioned in your participation as the leader of the state agency that we rely upon for financial accountability to be associated with the falsehoods and half-truths as mentioned in the video by Representative David Maloney and alleged biologist John Eveland.
We have a dozen or more professional biologists within the NC Region and NONE of them agree with alleged biologist John Eveland’s rhetoric.
We hunters feel that the video outlines a fact and then attributes the fact to a message Representative Maloney and John Eveland wanted to give. Shame on you for being duped into such a scheme. We are not as uninformed as you might think we are, and the following is our rationale for feeling you betrayed hunters in the video.
It is inferred that PA has lost 200,000 hunters because of mismanagement of the deer herd. Oh, so not true, per the 2016 National Survey of Hunting, Fishing, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation Report as issued by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Wildlife Management Institute that has been studying hunter recruitment and retention over the last decade, and the Council for Advancing Hunting and Shooting Sports. Hunting has declined nationwide.
Recruitment is not replacing the hunters that age out of the system, per Oregon DFW and the GA Field to Fork program, and retention will be even more difficult in the next decade as the baby boomers age out of the system.
The quote taken out of context by Representative Maloney where a biologist stated that, “deer management is not done on science, but on politics” is accurate and reflected the interference of special interest groups and the legislature in proper and scientific management of wildlife resources for the public by the PGC. It was not a statement by the biologist that alleged the PGC was mismanaging the deer herd – the statement was actually 180 degrees the other way. That statement reflects the meddling by Representatives like Mr. Maloney in management of the deer herd.
Per the deer herd and alleged mismanagement by the PGC, a study was just published in the scientific journal Science Advances that examined 62 provincial, territorial, and state wildlife agencies and their use of science to implement policy for the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation within their respective jurisdictions. For deer management, the PGC claimed a first place tie with Montana’s bighorn sheep program, Washington’s mountain goat and sheep programs, and Wisconsin’s deer program. Our state of PA and the PGC were right there at the top score for deer management!
As per the ethics violation, we believe this pertained to a former PGC employee from years back who was twice audited by the Governor’s Office and cleared to keep his outside employment, but then was audited a last time with different results, and then he resigned or retired. So, the great ethics violation from years back (two Executive Directors ago), as alleged, was really about an employee who was audited twice and cleared to continue his outside work, and then audited a third time, and retired or resigned. The inference was that this was allowed to go on for years; when in reality, the employee had been cleared to continue his outside work after two reviews. This old news was apparently brought up to create an issue where there no longer is one.
As per the $250,000 check to non-profits, the inference was that this was a misuse of funds. Our understanding is that this was a legitimate use of P-R funds that cover all manners of wildlife, research, and habitat needs, including non-game wildlife. It is also our understanding that the PGC reviewed their budget outlays after that instance and tightened the budget reins to include not only administrative and executive staff, but also the commissioners. Again, this is old news (from two Executive Directors ago), but was apparently brought up to create an issue where there no longer is one.
John Eveland needs to review the PGC Habitat and Forest Management video on the PGC website and get up-to-speed about what is really being done for wood cutting and habitat management on SGL. John referred to the idea that the PGC needs to “accommodate the habitat for wildlife”, with the inference that the PGC needs to cut more trees. In reality, the PGC has increased their wood harvest. The real problem lies with the vast amounts of private lands in the state that are not being managed on a sustainable basis to create more early Young Forests in the state. The PGC has Private Lands Habitat Diversity Biologists and programs such as VPA-HIP that work on private lands to improve habitat, BUT unless the private landowner is willing to create more habitat to accommodate wildlife, the idea is moot. The statement made by John Eveland that the “PGC has refused to do anything about habitat” is blatantly false, and he needs to be challenged on his false assertions.
Another statement made by John Eveland that the “PGC is encouraging CWD” is so unreal that it isn’t even laughable as a joke.
Anyhow, we will stop now. We support the PGC and the efforts they are making on our behalf with the limited funding they now have without a license increase in 20 years. We just hate to see our taxpayer dollars that are funding the Auditor General’s Office being spent on such an audit that we perceive as a ‘witch hunt’.
Sincerely, NC Division of the PFSC
Call me if you have any questions or comments