HARRISBURG, Pa., June 26, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today amended the list of state endangered and threatened species to reflect the current status of breeding bird populations in the state and to update scientific nomenclature for a species of warbler.
"Whenever wildlife managers designate animals as endangered or threatened species, it means their numbers are low, their habitat is at risk and they need specialized management or care to protect and hopefully increase their populations," said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. "Species declines are usually the result of changes brought about by people, or changes in environmental conditions or ecosystems. Some are naturally-occurring, some are not. But all present the same unfortunate consequence: a species in trouble.
"If there is one constant, it is that the world and living conditions change, and consequently affect wildlife populations and/or distribution. Some changes are caused by natural influences such as fires, weather and disease. Others are the result or byproduct of human activities: timbering, pollution, pesticide use, development, farming and so on. Introduction of species also can influence a native species' population. Some species listed as endangered or threatened in Pennsylvania are so distinguished because their range barely extends into the state, or their population has a fragile foothold here."
Under the action taken today, the upland sandpiper, a grassland nesting bird long-classified as threatened, has been moved to the endangered species list because it has declined precipitously over the last two decades and has virtually disappeared from Pennsylvania.
"We believe the upland sandpiper's rarity and diminished breeding range warrant this move," said Daniel Brauning, Game Commission Wildlife Diversity Division chief.
The northern harrier, once a rare but regular breeder in the state, has experienced a marked decline in Pennsylvania, as well as declines in northwest and northcentral regions over the last few decades, prompting the Board to approve adding this species to the state's list of threatened birds. The northern harrier is listed as either endangered or threatened in most neighboring states.
Long-eared owls are extremely rare breeders in Pennsylvania, and difficult to survey. Nesting locations have been confirmed in only seven locations in recent years, despite a concerted survey effort over much of the last decade; most nests are located in the Ridge and Valley and Appalachian Plateau regions. The rarity and scattering of nest records within this Commonwealth have prompted this proposal to list the long-eared owl as threatened.
Finally, in a reorganization of warbler nomenclature in 2011 by the American Ornithologist's Union, the genus Dendroica was changed to Setophaga necessitating this administrative change in the scientific name of the blackpoll warbler, which is on the state's endangered species list.
For more about the Pennsylvania endangered and threatened species lists, visit the Game Commission's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), put your cursor over "Wildlife" in the menu bar at the top of the homepage and click on "Endangered" in the drop-down box.
BOARD ADDRESSES ILLEGAL ATV USE
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave preliminary approval to a proposal to create a regulatory violation to possess, maintain, operate, occupy or travel by all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or snowmobile in violation of the state's Vehicle Code (Title 75).
"Unauthorized ATV operation on State Game Lands and private lands enrolled in the agency's Hunter Access Program continues to be one of the top 10 violations our Wildlife Conservation Officers encounter each year," said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. "Illegal ATV operation is a major source of wildlife habitat destruction across the state, and these violations are often accompanied by ATV classification offenses, such as a lack of registration or insurance, which are required under Title 75."
"Under current law, WCOs do not have authority to enforce Title 75 summary offenses, and the Game Commission normally forwards these violations to other enforcement authorities, which typically ends in mixed results. This amendment will ensure safe and effective enforcement of these requirements occurring on lands under Game Commission ownership, lease, agreement or control."
This proposed regulatory change must be approved by the Board at a future meeting before taking effect.
BOARD TAKES OTHER ACTION
In other action today, the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners:
- Adopted a policy statement on "Balanced Management," reaffirming the long-standing practice of Boards of Game Commissioners to find a balance between scientific management, stakeholders' needs and the desires and concerns of the citizens of the Commonwealth. The statement now becomes part of the Board's policy manual, which is available on the agency's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) by putting your cursor over "About Us," then on "Commissioners' Page" in the drop-down menu and then clicking on "Board Policy Manual" in the next drop-down menu;
- Gave final approval to a regulatory change to allow the use of draw-lock devices;
- Gave final approval to a regulatory change to define decoy as "any artificial representation or facsimile of a bird or animal used to attract other birds and animals. This term shall not be construed to include living birds or animals." The use of electronic or battery-operated decoys remains illegal;
- Gave final approval to a regulatory change to clarify that the prohibition on the use of "meat and animal products" in relation to furbearer trapping includes the use of "artificial representations or facsimiles thereof." This is necessary to avoid attracting birds of prey to sets;
- Gave final approval to a regulatory change requiring license holders to notify the agency within 30 days of any change of residency status, which will cost $6. However, the regulatory change will preclude the license holder from having to acquire a new license for the license year in which the change in residency has taken place. For example, if an individual purchases a resident license, but then moves out of state, he or she will have to notify the agency of the change in residency status and pay a $6 fee, and may continue to hunt for that license year still using his or her resident license. The following year, however, the individual will need to purchase a nonresident license. Presently, if a resident license holder becomes a nonresident, his or her license immediately becomes invalid and the person must purchase a nonresident license for that year;
- Gave preliminary approval to a series of technical regulatory changes to eliminate the reference to the Department of Environmental Resources, and replace it with a reference to Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which was made in law in 1995. The regulatory changes also update reference to the agency's officers as "Wildlife Conservation Officers." This change is non-substantive and is not intended to expand or limit the enforcement authority of any classification of officer;
- Gave preliminary approval to a regulatory change to allow the use of electronic crow decoys for use in the hunting of crows;
- Gave preliminary approval to a series of changes designed to improve the testing and certification of those applying to become permitted Wildlife Nuisance Control Agents;
- Reaffirmed dates of the Board's final quarterly meeting of 2012 to be held on Sept. 24-25, in Franklin, Venango County. The Board also set the first quarterly meeting of 2013 to be Jan. 27-29, 2013, at the agency's Harrisburg headquarters, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, just off the Progress Avenue exit of Interstate 81; and
- Announced the next Working Group Meetings of the Board will be held on Monday, Aug. 13, and Monday, Dec. 17, at the agency's Harrisburg headquarters, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, just off the Progress Avenue exit of Interstate 81.
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Game Commission