Last updated: June 07. 2014 10:21PM - 1197 Views
By - tvenesky@civitasmedia.com

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The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners will meet June 9 and 10 at the agency’s Harrisburg headquarters.

On Monday, the board is slated to convene at 8:30 a.m. to hear public recommendations followed by Game Commission staff reports. Doors open at 7:45 a.m. Individuals interested in offering public testimony may begin to register at 7:45 on a first-come, first-to-speak basis. Public comment is limited to five minutes and no PowerPoint presentations are permitted.

On Tuesday, the board will take up its prepared agenda. Doors open at 7:45 a.m. Tom Venesky will be live tweeting from the meeting @TLTomVenesky.

The agenda for the June meeting is available at the Game Commission’s website, www.pgc.state.pa.us. From the “Quick Clicks” box running down the right side of the homepage, select “Commissioners’ Meeting June 9-10, 2014” and click the link posted on the page.

The Game Commission’s headquarters is located at 2001 Elmerton Ave. just off the Progress Avenue exit of Interstate 81 in Harrisburg, Dauphin County.

Those unable to attend the meeting can watch much of it from home. The meeting will be live-streamed on the Game Commission’s website beginning Monday morning, immediately following the conclusion of public comments. In addition, the full board meeting on Tuesday will be live-streamed beginning at 8:30 a.m.

An icon will be posted on the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) on Monday and Tuesday to access the webcasts.

Help sought for bats

Pennsylvania Game Commission biologists are seeking assistance from residents in a regional monitoring effort to collect bat maternity colony data this summer. This monitoring is especially important due to the mortalities in bat populations throughout the eastern United States, including Pennsylvania, being caused by white-nose syndrome (WNS).

“WNS primarily kills during the winter, but the true impact of WNS on bat populations cannot be determined using estimates from winter hibernacula alone,” said Nate Zalik, a wildlife biologist for the Game Commission. “Pennsylvanians can help us more fully gauge the impact of WNS by hosting a bat count this summer. We are especially urging people who have previously conducted a bat count for the Game Commission to participate again this year. Sites monitored for many years are valuable in assessing bat population trends. However, we also are interested in receiving reports from new surveyors and sites, as identifying the location and size of colonies of WNS survivors is important.”

To obtain applications and information on how to participate, visit the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) and click on “Wildlife” in the menu bar at the top of the homepage, scroll down and choose “Little brown bat” in the Wild Mammals section, and then click on “Appalachian Bat Count.” Forms on the website guide interested participants through the steps of timing, conducting a survey and submitting their findings to the Game Commission. Scout groups, 4-H clubs, local environmental organizations, and individual homeowners all can participate in this important effort.

“The little brown bat and the big brown bat are the two species that most often use buildings as their summer roosts,” Zalik said. “Abandoned houses, barns, church steeples, roosting structures constructed specifically for bats, and even currently occupied structures can provide a summer home to female bats and their young.”

Zalik noted that the fieldwork isn’t difficult to do, and Pennsylvanians can play a huge role in helping the Game Commission get a better understanding of what is happening to bats this summer.

“We’re looking for some help, and we hope you’ll consider becoming part of the Appalachian Bat Count monitoring team,” Zalik said. “It’s a chance to make a difference for bats and to get involved in assessing the impact of WNS. Please consider lending a hand. Bats need you more than ever.”

For more information on WNS, visit the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) and click on “Wildlife” in the menu bar at the top of the homepage, and scroll down and choose “White-Nose Syndrome” in the Wildlife-Related Diseases section.

Get ready for boating season

With the summer boating season underway, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) strongly encourages boaters to check water conditions in advance and to always wear their life jackets on Pennsylvania waters.

“According to Pennsylvania’s boating accident reports, almost 80 percent of all boating fatalities happen to boaters not wearing a life jacket,” said Laurel Anders, PFBC Director of Boating and Outreach, “During late spring and early summer, boaters can expect to encounter high and cold water due to frequent rain events. These factors can be a recipe for disaster for boaters who underestimate the power of water.”

Sudden cold water immersion is one of the main reasons people drown. When a person is unexpectedly plunged into cold water below 70ºF, the body’s first response is usually an involuntary gasp. This is something no one can control and ruins the ability to swim because the person hyperventilates.

“There is a wealth of new research on cold water survival which states that wearing a life jacket significantly increases a person’s chance of survival,” Anders said. “Without a life jacket, a victim may inhale while under water and drown without coming back to the surface. This can only be prevented by wearing a life jacket at all times while on the water.”

So far this year, six people have died in recreational boating incidents, several of which occurred in high water following rain events. At least two of the victims were not wearing life jackets.

Many boaters don’t wear life jackets because they claim they can swim. However, a recent American Red Cross survey found that most Americans overestimate their swimming ability. Overall, the survey found that more than half of all Americans (54 percent) either can’t swim or don’t have all of the basic swimming skills.

“Cold, fast waters can make treading water very difficult even for those with moderate or better swimming abilities,” Anders saud. “Make a personal commitment to boating safety by always wearing your life jacket and insisting that your passengers do as well.”

Water survival safety tips include:

• Always wear a life jacket, even when not required. Many models provide insulating qualities against cold air and water.

• Never boat alone.

• Leave a float plan and know the waters you plan to boat.

• Always check the weather and real-time river forecasts for the potential of hazardous high water.

• Bring a fully-charged cell phone with you in case of emergency.

• If you are about to fall into the water, cover your mouth and nose with your hands. This will reduce the likelihood of inhaling water.

• If possible, stay with the boat. Get back into or climb on top of the boat.

To learn more about life jacket wear and cold water survival, visit the PFBC website: http://fishandboat.com/safety.htm.

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