After admitting to baiting the black bear he shot Wednesday, Nov. 25, the final day of Pennsylvania's three-day statewide season, Charles Olsen, Jr., Wilkes-Barre, has been charged by the Pennsylvania Game Commission with poaching the boar that had an estimated live weight of 707 pounds, making it the heaviest of the season.
PGC wildlife conservation officer Cory Bentzoni became suspicious when he saw a truck loaded with pastries from a local store driving along Route 309 in Dallas about a week before the season. He wrote down the vehicle license plate, found that it was registered to Olsen and instructed all PGC personnel operating bear check stations throughout the region to notify him if Olsen brought a bear into any of the stations.
November 25, Olsen brought the bear into the bear check station at the Northeast Region Office in Dallas. Wyoming County WCO Vic Rosa was immediately contacted by the Northeast Region Office, since Olsen reportedly harvested the bear in Noxen Township, Wyoming County.
Northeast Region Land Management Supervisor Peter Sussenbach, who also was aware of the tip provided by WCO Bentzoni, approached Olsen and said "there might be a problem with this bear." At that point, Olsen confessed that he had killed the bear over a bait pile.
"What is most unfortunate is that law-abiding bear hunters in the area were robbed of the opportunity to legally harvest truly a trophy bear by fair chase means," Northeast Region Law Enforcement Supervisor Dan Figured said. "It was thanks to the quick thinking of an observant Wildlife Conservation Officer, and some basic investigative work, that helped resolve this case."
WCO Rosa filed charges of illegally killing a bear over bait last week. If found guilty, Olsen faces fines and penalties ranging between $500-$1,500, as well as the loss of hunting/trapping privileges for at least three years. In addition to criminal fines in this case, the PGC intends to request from the judge restitution for this trophy-class bear, which could amount to $5,000, from the enhanced restitution adopted into regulations by the board of game commissioners last year as another tool to deter those who would steal Pennsylvania's wildlife.
Pennsylvania Game Commission officials are urging wildlife enthusiasts to join the tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the United States in the Audubon Society's 110th Annual Christmas Bird Count, which will take place from Monday, Dec. 14, through Tuesday, Jan. 5.
"Bird enthusiasts, armed with binoculars, bird guides and checklists, will head out on an annual mission - often before dawn - to make a difference and to experience the beauty of creation," said Dan Brauning, Game Commission Wildlife Diversity Section supervisor. "Each year, volunteers brave snow, wind, or rain, to take part in the Christmas Bird Count, and they have made an enormous contribution to conservation to help guide conservation actions.
"The data collected through this effort – which is the longest-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations – allows researchers, conservation biologists, and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America."
For more information visit the Game Commission's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us ) and click on "Wildlife" in the left-hand column, and then choose the "Christmas Bird Count" icon in the center of the page.
Information also can be obtained from Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count website (http://www.audubon.org/Bird/cbc/ ), or on the Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology's website (http://www.pabirds.org ).
Hunters can help emergency food assistance agencies feed Pennsylvania's hungry by donating extra deer meat to the statewide "Hunters Sharing the Harvest" network.
Participating hunters can take their deer to one of the nearly 80 participating meat processors throughout the state and identify how much of the venison – from several pounds to the whole animal – they would like to donate. If the entire deer is donated, the hunter is asked to make a minimum $15 tax-deductible contribution to help cover processing costs, and HSH will pay the remaining fees, or hunters may also donate a portion of their deer by paying the full processing fee and notifying the processor to hold a specified amount for the program.
Established in 1991, HSH provides more than 200,000 meals annually to food banks, churches and social services feeding programs.Last year, hunters donated more than 100,000 pounds of venison.
To learn more about Hunters Sharing the Harvest and obtain a list of participating meat processors and county coordinators, visit the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Web site at www.pgc.state.pa.us  and click on "Hunting" and then "Hunters Sharing the Harvest." Information may also be found at www.sharedeer.org  or by calling toll-free 866-474-2141.
Author Lisa Price, a Pottsville native, will discuss her book "One Woman's Haven" as 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.
A muzzleloader shoot will be held Sunday, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., by the First Frontier Militia at Bowmanstown Rod and Gun Club, Gun Club Road, off Route 248, Bowmanstown. For information, call Roger Fisher at 610-377-2812.
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.