A proposal to remove the bald eagle from the state's list of threatened species has received first approval by the Pennsylvania Game Commission board of game commissioners, which is seeking public comment prior to its first quarterly meeting of 2014 in January. Under the proposal the bald eagle's status will be upgraded from "threatened" to "protected" in Pennsylvania.

In 1983, when the first 12 eaglets were plucked from wild nests in Canada to be raised and released here, Pennsylvania was host to only three bald eagle nests all of them in Crawford County in the northwestern corner of the state.

Three decades later, there are more than 271 nests statewide.

Criteria for removing the bald eagle from the state's threatened species list are laid out in the PGC's bald eagle management plan which calls for delisting eagles as threatened if all of four criteria are met for five consecutive years. There must be at least 150 active nests statewide; successful pairs in at least 40 counties; at least a 60 percent success rate of known nests; and productivity of at least 1.2 eaglets fledged per successful nest.

Three of those criteria already have been met for a five-year span, and this year eagles will exceed for a fifth-straight year the requirement of nesting successfully in at least 40 counties. If the bald eagle is delisted, the bird will continue to be protected under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Lacey Act.

Under the Eagle Act, those who harm or disturb eagles are subject to a civil penalty of up to one year in jail or a $5,000 fine for their first offense, and criminal convictions can result in fines as high as $250,000. Additionally, state penalties for disturbing protected wildlife include fines of up to $1,500 and bolster protection for Pennsylvania eagles.

Those wishing to submit comments on the proposal to remove the bald eagle from the state's threatened species list may send them by email to BaldEagleComments@pa.gov.

Comments may also be mailed to Bald Eagle Comments, Pennsylvania Game Commission, 2001 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg, Pa. 17110-9797.

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Two limited archery/ flintlock muzzleloader hunts for antlerless deer are scheduled for the controlled access areas of the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area, Hopewell Road, Kleinfeltersville.

Hunts will be held Wednesday, Dec. 18, and Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, outside of any regular statewide deer season, and the only hunting occurring within the management area on these days will be by those hunters with special permits.

In order to participate, hunters must be properly licensed and be eligible to take an antlerless deer in Wildlife Management Unit 5B on the day they would be hunting.

Hunting will be by special permit only, and 100 permits will be issued by random drawing for each hunting day.

Hunters wishing to participate in the drawing should apply on a standard postcard obtained at a U.S. Post Office and contain the hunter's name, complete mailing address, hunting license number and antlerless deer license number for Wildlife Management Unit 5B if applicable.

Only one application per hunter may be submitted and will be accepted, by mail only, until Monday, Nov. 4, and be mailed to: Pennsylvania Game Commission MCWMA, Box 110, Kleinfeltersville, Pa. 17039.

A public drawing will be held at the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area visitor center Wednesday, Nov. 6, beginning at 10 a.m. There will be only one drawing to fill both hunting days, with the first 100 applications drawn assigned to the hunt December 18 and the second 100 to the hunt January 15.

Successful applicants will be notified by mail, and there will be no provisions or drawings held to fill vacancies created by permit holders who do not participate on the day of the hunt.

In addition to the antlerless deer hunts, which are being conducted for the purposes of herd reduction at Middle Creek, there will be 10 permits issued for each hunt enabling selected hunters to take an antlered deer as well.

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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 Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry program specialist Ed Dix.

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A simulated hunting 3D course is open daily through Oct. 12 from dawn to dusk at Bears Head Archery, Delano, off I-81 exit 134. Sundays, the course is closed from 1-4 p.m. for trap.

For information, email docblazer@verizon.net.

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A Silver Creek Fire Tower Hike will be held, Thursday, Oct. 10, beginning at 10 a.m., from Locust Lake State Park, Barnesville.

For information contact Robin Tracey at (570) 467-2506.

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First Frontier Militia, the muzzleloader branch of Bowmanstown Rod and Gun Club, is holding a two-day rendezvous and muzzleloader shoot Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 12 and 13, beginning at 9 a.m. both days, at the club grounds on Gun Club Road, off Route 248.

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A Pennsylvania Game Commission Cable Restraint Certification Course is being held Saturday, Oct. 12, from 7:30-11:30 a.m., at Auburn Game and Fish Association, 29 River Road, Auburn.

For required preregistration call Brian Mohn at 610-562-1790, email papatrees@aol.com or call Ron Smith at 570-754-7774.