New, tougher anti-poaching legislation is in effect for the 2013 trout seasons, increasing the maximum fine for illegally harvesting fish from $200 to $5,000 and extends the period the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission can revoke fishing and boating privileges from two to five years.
"This new law will have an immediate impact on our ability to deter large-scale poachers from illegally taking fish," PFBC executive director John Arway said. "These are the individuals who deliberately come in after dark and take large amounts of game fish, often by using illegal methods such as netting or spearing in the streams.
"In the past, poaching was subject to a $200 maximum fine. Now we can hit violators with up to $5,000 in fines, as well as the cost of replacing the fish they illegally harvest."
This legislation took effect immediately upon signing. Rep. Michael Peifer (R-Greentown) sponsored the legislation as House Bill 2293.
"Weak laws made our waterways extremely vulnerable to poaching, with highly sought-after trophy species of fish repeatedly stolen from our waterways and sold on the black market," Peifer said. "This is a serious problem that has a detrimental impact on our regional economy, and under this law, we finally have a punishment that fits the crime."
This law creates a new section in the Fish and Boat code for "serious unlawful take," which increases the penalty for harvesting more than the legal daily limit of fish from a summary offense of the first degree to a misdemeanor of the second degree. It also allows the PFBC to collect from violators the costs to replace the poached fish, and it increases the amount of time a violator can be sentenced to prison from a maximum of 90 days to two years.
In particular, this law will be beneficial in the Erie watershed, where the annual steelhead season is underway. Annually, PFBC waterways conservation officers apprehend and cite individuals for large cases of poaching of dozens of fish over the legal creel limit.
Cabela's is holding seminars and product demonstrations dealing with hunting spring gobblers, today and Sunday, at the Hamburg store. Pennsylvania native Nate Hosie, co-host of HeadHunters TV on the Outdoor Channel, is the keynote speaker during the two-day event.
Among his topics are hunting call-shy birds in Pennsylvania and tips and techniques on how hunters can successfully film their hunts.
Wildlife Leadership Academy is accepting applications from youth between the ages of 14-17 to attend either of its two five-day schools that focus on deer and trout.
This year's Pennsylvania Bucktails, which focuses on whitetail deer and will take place at Stone Valley Recreation Area in Petersburg, Huntingdon County, Tuesday-Saturday, June 18-22; Pennsylvania Brookies, which focuses on brook trout and coldwater fisheries, will take place at Sieg Conference Center in Hermitage, Clinton County, Tuesday-Saturday, July 9-13.
WLA is a cooperative initiative led by the Pennsylvania Institute for Conservation Education, with instructors from government agencies, nonprofits and universities.
Among those providing instructors are Kutztown University, Pennsylvania Game Commission, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Pennsylvania State University , Quality Deer Management Association and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Field school applications are available on the Web at http://www.piceweb.org/ , and applications must be submitted by Monday, April 1.
For more information, contact Michele Kittell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 570-245-8518.
Sunday's edition of "Experience The Outdoors," hosted by award-winning Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association member Doyle Dietz, at 7 a.m. on 1410-AM WLSH, at 9:30 a.m. on Magic 105.5-FM and on the Web at http://www.wmgh.com/ by clicking the link to the program, features Tamaqua Trout Derby chairman Tom Banditelli.
A European-style continental shoot to benefit the Susquehanna Council of the Boy Scouts of America will be held Saturday, March 23, beginning with registration at 8 a.m., at Martz's Gap View Hunting Preserve, Dalmatia. Participants are required to wear a blaze orange hat and vest and have eye and hearing protection. It is recommended that shooters have a minimum of six boxes of low brass and four boxes of high brass shells.
Competition will be in two flights utilizing 11 blinds with two shooters per blind for a maximum of 44 participants. Morning shooters will have a round of wobble trap after lunch and those shooting wobble in the morning shooting the course after lunch.
For information call Barry Derr at (570) 274-6292.
A Chronic Wasting Disease Seminar is being held by the Southeast Pennsylvania Branch of Quality Deer Management Association, Saturday March 23, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at Reinholds Fire Company Banquet Hall, Route 897/West Main St., Reinholds.
This is the QDMA "short course" that will focus on public information, with the featured speaker Pennsylvania Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Management director Cal DuBrock. A question-and-answer session will follow the seminar.
Space is limited to 150 attendees, and preregistration is suggested. For information and registration, call Mike Gerth at 484-269-2390, Steve Homyack at 610-589-5051 or Barry Buhay at 717-397-9902.
A group of 15 licensed New York State fishing guides from the Oswego County River Guides Association are sponsoring driftboat fishing trips for U.S. Military veterans, Monday, March 25, on the Salmon River. As part of the program, participants will receive lodging and a dinner at the Altmar Volunteer Fire Department.
Requests are filled in the order they are received on the special website that has been established for the event at http://www.volunteerguidesforvets.com/. Those interested in making donations to help defray expenses may also do so on the website or by sending checks to Volunteer Guides for Vets, 90 Lewis St., Pulaski, N.Y. 13142.