OUTDOOR BRIEFS- K9

Pa. Game Commission launches podcast

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Game Commission has launched a new podcast, “Call of the Outdoors,” a series of episodes focused on wildlife, hunting, habitat and conservation across the Keystone State.

The podcast is hosted by Game Commission Marketing Director and world turkey calling champion Matt Morrett.

“We are really excited and proud to share this podcast with people who love Pennsylvania wildlife as much as we do at the Game Commission,” said Morrett. “Listeners will get an inside look into how wildlife is managed here in Penn’s Woods and hopefully gain a new sense of knowledge and pride in their state wildlife agency.”

The first three episodes, released in conjunction with Pennsylvania’s spring gobbler season, feature country music superstar Blake Shelton, TV hunting personality Michael Waddell and Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans.

Future episodes will focus on wildlife, habitat, hunting, conservation and law enforcement while shedding light on what’s happening behind the scenes at the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Episodes are available online at www.calloftheoutdoorspgc.com. Listeners can also subscribe and download podcast episodes on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Store, Spotify and Stitcher.

NY fishing regs guide available for download

ALBANY — New York’s 2020-21 Freshwater Fishing Digest is now available — sort of.

Normally, hard copies are available where fishing licenses are sold. But most businesses remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, DEC officials are encouraging anglers to download the digital or PDF version of the regs guide.

Lake Ontario fishing boat survey canceled

CAPE VINCENT, N.Y. — DEC has canceled the 2020 Lake Ontario fishing boat survey, which serves as a major tool in gauging the quality of fishing on the big lake as well as fishing pressure.

The cancellation of the survey is a product of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey runs each year from April 15 through Sept. 30 and utilizes two crews of two agents each who typically use boats to intercept and interview anglers returning from their fishing trip.

“Given that adequate social distancing cannot be effectively maintained during this interview process, DEC will not conduct the survey for the first time since 1985,” officials said in a news release.

Lab pups begin K-9 training in Pa.

HARRISBURG— A trio of Labrador retriever puppies have joined the Pennsylvania Game Commission and begun their K-9 training with their handlers.

The newest K-9s — Ayla, Kya and Cali — will be trained to detect the scents of deer, elk, bear, turkey and waterfowl. They’ll also learn to find objects such as live or fired shell casings, firearms, bows, knives, phones, wallets and more.

Overt Special Investigator Shawn Barron and K-9 Ayla serve in the commission’s Southwest Region. Overt Special Investigator Steve Brussese and K-9 Kya will be serving the Southcentral Region, while Overt Special Investigator Tyler Kreider and K-9 Cali will be serving the Southeast Region following their training.

The commission now has six K-9 teams — one in each of the agency’s regions — to assist game wardens with cases across the state. All six K-9s can detect articles, discover evidence, and track humans and wildlife.

The Game Commissionin in 2015 resurrected its K-9 program, and the teams assist game wardens in in locating and retrieving physical evidence related to game law violations.

The call volume for the K-9 teams has increased every year and prompted the additions to the K-9 unit. Call volume from other agencies requesting the commission’s K-9 teams has also increased.

Four hunting deaths in Pa. last season

HARRISBURG — Four fatalities were among the 26 hunting-related shooting incidents that occurred in 2019, according to Pennsylvania Game Commission statistics.

It marked the seventh straight year with fewer than 30 hunting-related shooting incidents (HRSIs) in the state, although the four fatalities was sharply above 2018, when one death occurred.

There were 27 HRSIs in 2018, statistics showed.

“Hunter safety has been at the forefront of the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s thinking for decades upon decades, and through effective requirements and programs to educate our hunters, incredible improvements have been made over the years,” said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “Hunting in Pennsylvania is as safe as it’s ever been. But at the same time, we continue to work toward an even better safety record.”

There were no hunting-related shooting incidents during the 2019 spring gobbler season or the fall turkey season.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the perfect performance our spring turkey hunters turned in last year,” Burhans said ahead of the 2020 spring gobbler season.

Pennsylvania has compiled data on HRSIs since 1915. In its annual reports on the incidents, the Game Commission establishes an incident rate by computing the number of accidents per 100,000 participants.

The 3.06 incident rate per 100,000 hunters in 2019 was a decrease from the 2018 incident rate of 3.16.

Fifty-eight percent, of incidents reported in 2019 were inflicted by others, and the primary cause of HRSIs, 42 percent, was a victim being in the line of fire. The second most common cause was the unintended discharge of a firearm.

HRSIs in Pennsylvania have declined by nearly 80 percent since hunter education training began in 1959.

In 2019, 30,821 students – 22,526 traditional course students and 8,295 online students – received their Basic Hunter-Trapper Education certification in Pennsylvania. The educational effort is spearheaded by 1,828 volunteer instructors teaching Pennsylvania’s hunters basic safety and advanced hunting skills.

To view the Game Commission’s 2019 HRSI report, visit www.pgc.pa.gov and click the Hunting-Related Shooting Incidents link on the Hunter-Trapper Education page.

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