Thursday, February 8, 2018

Game Commission Releases 2017 Annual Report - Putting Wildlife First

The Game Commission this week released its 2017 Annual Report and accompanying video which summarizes accomplishments and challenges in the past year, including engaging the public on wildlife issues, chronic wasting disease, West Nile virus in Pennsylvania’s state bird, the ruffed grouse maintaining financial stability.
The report is broken out into 5 sections-- Putting Wildlife First, Managing Wildlife Habitat, Protecting Our Wildlife, Proven Leaders In Conservation, Hunting and Trapping and Striving For Long-Term Financial Stability.
Among the accomplishments in 2017 were--
-- 47,606 acres of wildlife habitat improved;
-- 9,896 acres transitioned to young forests;
-- Improved 4,262 miles of roads and trails;
-- Nearly 8,000 samples collected for chronic wasting disease research;
-- Hunters harvested 333,254 deer, 48,945 wild turkeys, 3,431 bears, 104 elk;
-- Raised and released 243,000 pheasants on public hunting lands; and
-- 7,516 prosecutions for wildlife violations, 12,000 warnings
Here is the introduction to the report by Executive Director Bryan J. Burhans--
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is your state wildlife agency.
We live by our mission to manage Pennsylvania’s wild birds, wild mammals, and their habitats for current and future generations. That entails managing 480 wild birds and mammals, including 20 endangered species, seven threatened species, and 109 species of greatest conservation need.
The agency also manages more than 1.5 million acres of state game lands spread across 300 tracts in 65 of the state’s 67 counties. These lands were purchased largely through revenues derived from hunting and trapping licenses, along with help from many other conservation partners.
These lands are managed primarily for hunters, trappers, and wildlife’s wellbeing. No other state-owned land in the Commonwealth is managed with such a sharp focus. As a result, our system of game lands showcases the cutting-edge approaches we use to safeguard and perpetuate wildlife.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is blessed to have a hard-charging workforce of full-time and part- time employees and volunteers. Compared to other Commonwealth agencies, the Game Commission is small. When including the number of citizens who volunteer their time to support the agency’s mission, the headcount is impressive.
For example, the agency has 2,217 Hunter and Trapper Education instructors spread across the state who receive no compensation for their service. Countless others participate as deputy game wardens, in habitat improvement projects on state game lands, or in surveys to document changes in wildlife populations.
The challenges before us are immense. Chronic wasting disease threatens our hunting heritage, and the state’s $2 billion industry tied to hunting. Hunter numbers continue to decline.
This trend is being seen in most states and is driven by complex cultural changes and aging populations of hunters. In Pennsylvania, the loss of hunting license dollars is a threat to wildlife conservation.
Other challenges, such as West Nile virus, threaten our state bird, the ruffed grouse. White-nose syndrome has eliminated 99 percent of some species of cave bats. And invasive plant species continue to damage quality wildlife habitats.
Although these threats continue to grow, Pennsylvanians should rest assured that our employees and volunteers are committed to reversing these trends. However, it won’t be easy and it won’t happen overnight.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission distinguishes its statutory responsibility to protect wildlife as its most critical role in conservation.
We roll up our sleeves every day and work diligently to meet wildlife’s challenges head-on. After all, the future of hunting, trapping, and wildlife conservation is at stake.
Click Here for a copy of the report.  Click Here to watch a short video with highlights from the report
For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Game Commission website.

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