Public input is being sought by the Pennsylvania Game Commission on drafts of its ruffed grouse and northern bobwhite quail management plans.
Both can be reviewed on the agency's website at www.pgc.state.pa.us by clicking on the "Draft Grouse Management Plan" and "Draft Quail Management Plan" icons under the large photo in the center of the homepage.
Public comments on the plans will be accepted until Thursday, Sept. 1, via the website or by mail to either Ruffed Grouse Management Plan or Quail Management Plan, Pennsylvania Game Commission, 2001 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg 17110-9797.
"We are seeking public comment on these drafts to ensure the resulting final management plan considers the thoughts and concerns of Pennsylvanians about these species," PGC Bureau of Wildlife Management director Cal DuBrock said.
"As written, the plans are science-based, progressive and promote responsible management, and we're interested in hearing from Pennsylvanians who would like to offer comments, and to see if we've missed something or if they share our management vision for the future.
"Drafted by staff of the agency's Game Bird Section, the plans will require the support of Pennsylvania hunters and all Pennsylvanians. Most importantly, it will require working with farmers, private landowners, and public landowners, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever and other conservation partners to restore farmland ecosystems to accommodate bobwhites."
Northern bobwhite quail is one of the most popular game birds in North America.
Its native range at one time included most of the eastern United States north to southern Maine, southern New York, southern Ontario, central Wisconsin and south central Minnesota, west to very southeastern Wyoming, eastern Colorado, eastern New Mexico, and eastern Mexico south to Chiapas.
Since the mid 1960s, the bobwhite's range and populations have declined dramatically. Northern bobwhites were relatively common across southern Pennsylvania farmland and brush lands until about 1945, but populations declined rapidly from 1945-55 before making a recovery in the early 1960s.
Since 1966, the range and populations of bobwhites have declined to the point that most counties in the commonwealth no longer have bobwhites as a breeding species. It currently is listed as a species of special concern in the Pennsylvania Game Commission's State Wildlife Action Plan
It is the goal of the ruffed grouse management plan, also drafted by staff of the agency's Game Bird Section, to increase grouse populations for hunting and viewing by improving the condition and distribution of young forest habitats in Pennsylvania, and to support the implementation of the national Ruffed Grouse Conservation Plan.
To support this goal the plan identifies supporting objectives and strategies for guiding management decisions over a 10-year horizon, 2011-2020, and are grouped under population, habitat, and human dimensions categories.
Ruffed grouse is North America's most widely distributed resident game bird, is the most popular small game bird in Pennsylvania and is the official state bird.
Each year, slightly more than 100,000 hunters harvest anywhere from 75,000-100,000 ruffed grouse, and grouse hunting results in the direct spending of about $79 million, giving grouse a significant social and economic value as a game bird in Pennsylvania.
Grouse populations have declined since 1980, as have the number of hunters and their harvests. Although grouse can be present in most forested areas, they are abundant only where young forest habitats between 5-15 years old are common.
Bears Head Archery, Delano, located one mile off Exit 134, Interstate 81, has its 3-D course open daily to the public from dawn to dusk through Saturday, Oct. 15. Donations are accepted, and for information, contact Frank Blazusky at 570-467-0331 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tournament angler Ron Bane Jr., of the Schuylkill Bass Club is the guest of Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association member Doyle Dietz on "Experience The Outdoors," Sunday, from 7-7:30 a.m. on 1410-AM, WLSH, from 9:30-10 a.m., on WMGH, 105.5-FM and on the Web at www.wmgh.com by clicking the "Experience The Outdoors" link.
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Kempton, is accepting applications for its 2011 Raptor Camp, a camp designed especially for young nature enthusiasts entering the fourth and fifth grade. Raptor Camp will be held daily from 9 am to 3 pm, July 25-29, and costs $230 per child with a $30 discount for Hawk Mountain members, and applications are available by calling the sanctuary at 610-756-6961 or by email at email@example.com.
During Raptor Camp, Hawk Mountain educators use eagles, hawks, falcons and owls as a focus for learning, and together the group takes advantage of the 2,600-acre sanctuary for outdoors activities. Each day includes hands-on lessons, crafts and activities, each designed to provide an enriched sense of environmental awareness and appreciation for birds of prey and the natural world we all share.
A trap shoot will be held, Thursday, July 21, beginning at 6 p.m., at Orwigsburg Gun Club, Gun Club Road, off Route 443 East, Orwigsburg. For information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.