Two bills introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R- AK) and U.S. Representative Dan Boren (D- OK) will protect recreational hunting, fishing and shooting on land administered by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.

Backed by the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, HR 3749 andthe Senate legislation are companion bills collectively known as the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act.They will prevent situations from emerging where public land is closed arbitrarily for hunting, fishing and shooting, mandating that such closures be done through a reasonable and transparent process.

Both bills are also supported by the National Rifle Association, Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, American Sportfishing Association and Safari Club International and would ensure:

Federal public land managers with the U.S. Forest Service and BLM provide for the use of and access to public lands for hunting, fishing and shooting. An "open-until-closed" policy is established for the lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the BLM unless public and Congressional notification is given.

Land managers are urged to lease land for shooting ranges by having the lessee offer suitable assurances to remediate leased lands at the termination of the lease, thus remedying concerns expressed in the past by the BLM over damage to land used for shooting,

Skilled volunteers be used on federal public lands not open to hunting when wildlife management requires the culling of animal populations,

Congress receives an annual report detailing any closures of land to fishing, hunting, or shooting and the reasons for the closures.

Among the cosponsors of HR 3749 are Kathleen Dahlkemper (D- PA) and Bill Shuster (R- PA).

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Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife conservation officer Monroe County Cory Bentzoni reports that Chestnut Hill and Jackson townships in Monroe County have signed up 1,037 acres of land in the agencies Safety Zone Program.

"This land is now open to public hunting and will receive the same treatment as State Game Lands," Bentzoni said. "These townships were good enough to sign into the program, so please be respectful of these properties because this privilege can be revoked at anytime."

Also in Monroe County WCO Scott Malicky said the public shooting range at SGL 127 recently was closed and work on the new range is progressing on schedule.

"The new range is at a great location, along 7-Mile Road, where there will be easier access for shooters as well as law enforcement officers to patrol the area," Malicky said.

In Carbon County, WCO Fred Merluzzi said that two people involved in taking a hen turkey in spring gobbler season were successfully prosecuted through the help of two hunters who got the license number of the vehicle.

"After quite some time, we were able to make an arrest, and the outcome was a successful prosecution," Merluzzi said. "We see more hunters getting involved in these incidents and, when they do, we have a leg up on the violators."

"This past July, we had two people shoot and kill a doe one night, but thankfully, local people got descriptions including the clothes that they had on. I was in the area and a successful prosecution was made, which shows that when people get involved, good thing do happen."

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Northampton County WCO Brad Kreider reports that bear problems and calls are still coming in as they begin to feed heavy with the arrival of fall and cooler weather. "Many of these bear calls originate in WMU 5C, which will be part of the extended bear season, Dec. 2- 5, in addition to the statewide three-day season," he said. "I encourage those planning to hunt deer to get a bear license to take advantage of this opportunity."

Schuylkill County WCO Kevin Clouser reports an increase of black bear highway fatalities in the county. "In past weeks, two were hit on Route 309 and two in the Frackville area," he said.

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Pennsylvania Game Commission board of game commissioners vice-president Jay Delaney is today's guest on "Experience the Outdoors" with Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association member Doyle Dietz on Oldies 1410-AM, from 7:30-8 a.m. There will be a rebroadcast of the program Sunday, from 9:30-10 a.m., on Magic, WMGH, 105.5-FM.

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Locust Valley Fish and Game, Barnesville, is holding a coyote hunt from Monday, Nov. 2-Saturday, Dec. 12, with a registration deadline of Sunday, Nov. 1, at 8 p.m. For information, call the club at 570-467-0311, Mark Petrey at 570-778-2556, or access the Web site at www.lvfg.org.

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A "Bake Oven Knob and Baer's Rocks Tour" will be held Sunday, from 2-4 p.m., meeting along Route 309 at the Schuylkill/Lehigh counties line on the Blue Mountain.

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A primitive rendezvous and muzzleloader shoot will be held Friday-Sunday, Oct. 23-25, at the Henry's of Boulton Plantation, Belfast. For information, call Yvonne White at 609-267-3706.

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As part of its popular patch collection offerings, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has commissioned a new patch to promote the Mentored Youth Hunting Program.Accompanying the 4.5x3.5-inch patch is a Saf-T Plug that acts as a visual cue that the action of any pump-action or semi-automatic shotgun is open and safe.The two items sell for $7, including sales tax, and can be obtained at any Game Commission office or through "The Outdoor Shop" on the agency's Web site at www.pgc.state.pa.us.

To order online, click on "The Outdoor Shop" icon in the right-hand column of the homepage, then choose "Pennsylvania Game Commission Outdoor Shop" in the lower left-hand corner of the page, select "Merchandise" in the banner, select "Patches" in the left-hand column and scroll down to "2009 Mentored Youth Patch & PGC Saf-T Plug." Orders also can be made by calling 1-888-888-3459.

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Complimentary, one-year memberships are being offered to first-time members by the National Rifle Association. According to an NRA spokesperson in the membership department, this is being done in an effort to familiarize firearms owners and shooters with the organization's services and programs.

To register for a complimentary NRA membership, access the special Web site at

www.nrahq.org/nrabonus/accept-membership.asp.