Philadelphia/ Politics & Govt
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Published on March 21, 2024
Pennsylvania Game Commission Touts High Prosecution Success, Advances in Wildlife ConservationSource: Unsplash/2 Bull Photography

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is making strides in wildlife management and conservation efforts, as detailed by Executive Director Bryan Burhans during his testimony before the House Game and Fisheries Committee. A comprehensive annual report was presented, highlighting the agency's in-depth research, habitat preservation initiatives, and educational programs designed to engage citizens from all walks of life.

In the fiscal year 2022-23, Burhans reported that State Game Wardens issued 5,567 warnings and initiated 6,911 prosecutions with a 98.2% success rate, a testament to their efficiency and professionalism. Moreover, with wildlife management being their forte, the Game Commission examined more than 23,000 harvested deer from over 400 processors to glean insights into the population structure and help inform their management decisions.

According to the Game Commission's website, their studies are not just limited to deer. From bears to wild turkeys and bats, the agency is knee-deep in research. In particular, the Game Commission's initiative in Sproul State Forest is set to shed light on bear habitats and survival, while a new project aims to track 200 bears with GPS collars over the next five years.

The Commission’s reports also highlighted their endeavors to curb white-nose syndrome in bat populations, which seems to have yielded promising results through temperature adjustments in hibernation sites, potentially reducing pathogen growth and disease prevalence. In addition, their role extends to banding songbirds and exploring genetic diversity in grouse, representing just a fraction of their dedication to Pennsylvania’s diverse wildlife.

Habitat improvement remains another key area of focus, with prescribed fires on nearly 9,000 acres and timber harvests on about 25,000 acres last year alone. Infrastructure also saw significant enhancements, with the addition of new shooting ranges and upgrades for several existing ones. Educational milestones included certifying more than 29,000 new hunters and reaching out to over 100,000 students through the National Archery in the Schools Program.

Beyond hunting, community engagement plays a crucial role, as evidenced by the mentored hunts in Philadelphia’s urban areas, and extensive outreach through social media, podcasts, video streams, and live events. To top it off, Pennsylvania still holds strong in national hunting license sales, bucking the trend of declining numbers with an outlier performance, as mentioned by Burhans.

The Game Commission's dedication to managing wildlife for all Pennsylvanians shines through their myriad projects and studies, related Burhans, concluding his testimony with an open invitation to answer any questions from the committee members. His commitment to the agency's mission to ensure continued conservation efforts in the state has been made abundantly clear. Hunters, and even those who never don a camo jacket or climb a tree stand, seem to benefit from a resource-rich Pennsylvania landscape.