Last updated: February 19. 2013 10:20PM - 384 Views

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MIFFLINBURG -- A wildlife conservation officer reprimanded a passenger who fired a shot at a black bear after he and the driver had stopped their vehicle on Route 192 in Union County.

Road hunting in Pennsylvania, Dirk Remensnyder said, is illegal.

The bear escaped unharmed and the hunters without charges. They received only a tongue-lashing from Remensnyder, who did not disclose their identities.

No charges were filed.

The incident occurred east of the intersection of Buffalo and Forest Hill roads in Mifflinburg. The driver said his passenger told him to pull over and stop as he'd seen a bear.

A nearby resident, who heard the shot and drove down the road to see what was happening, called Remensnyder's office. The resident saw the parked vehicle and recorded the license plate number, Remensnyder said, which led him to the vehicle's driver.

The incident occurred during rifle bear season, which ran from Nov. 17-22.

In Pennsylvania, it's illegal to use a motorized vehicle to find and hunt game. Also, a person cannot get out of a vehicle and fire a gun within 25 yards of the travel portion of a highway, Remensnyder said. It's also illegal to carry a loaded gun in a vehicle.

In these snap-judgment cases, People get excited and try to load a gun before exiting the vehicle, accidently shooting themselves, Remensnyder said.

The primary thing we want in law enforcement is voluntary compliance, Remensnyder said. When I look at a case, I try to look at all factors involved and the demeanor of the individuals.

A lot of times, people do stuff on a split-second decision, he said, and didn't have time to evaluate the consequences of their actions.

Game wardens can issue citations or written or oral warnings after taking into account the event's circumstances.

Hunting in Pennsylvania is going on most of the time, Remensnyder said, from goose and dove season in early September to small game and trapping in mid to late February. There have been no hunting accidents reported in Union County this season, he said.

2nd Pa. deer negative for chronic wasting disease

HARRISBURG — A second escaped deer connected to a quarantined central Pennsylvania deer farm has tested negative for chronic wasting disease.

The state Department of Agriculture said Tuesday there was no sign of the deadly neurological infection in the deer that had escaped from an unlicensed farm in Huntingdon County last summer.

The deer had come from the Adams County farm where the first confirmed Pennsylvania cases of chronic wasting disease were discovered. The infection can't be transmitted to humans but is deadly to elk, moose and deer.

Another deer that had escaped from the farm also tested negative earlier this month.

There have been no confirmed cases of chronic wasting disease in the state's wild deer population.

Commerce secretary: Return $544K in fish fines

BOSTON — The acting U.S. Commerce Secretary on Friday ordered federal regulators to return about $544,000 in unjust fines collected from 14 fishermen or fishing businesses, most of whom worked Northeast waters.

Secretary Rebecca Blank also directed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to forgive two other complainants a combined $150,000 in debt.

Her decisions followed the second phase of a lengthy probe into charges by New England fishermen of abusive, unfair treatment by the officers and attorneys who enforce the nation's fishing laws.

Blank's decisions mean nearly $1.2 million in unjust penalties has now been ordered returned to fishermen. In May 2011, the commerce secretary ordered $650,000 in unjust fines given back.

New Bedford fishing boat owner Carlos Rafael, who will receive $17,500 back after Blank's order, said he's pleased to get anything, given the industry's ongoing struggles. But he said the bigger victory is accountability for fisheries' officers.

Even if I didn't get any money, the world is watching them, he said. Before nobody was watching them. ... Before they were like the Gestapo. Before you were (automatically) guilty, the party was over.

The 15-month investigation covered cases between March 1994 and February 2010. It included interviews with people who absorbed five-, six- and even seven-figure fines for violations ranging from paperwork problems to allegedly fishing in closed areas.

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