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Southcentral Region News

For Information Contact:October 28, 2021
Amy B. NaboznyFor Immediate Release
 Increased Access to State Game Lands 53

The Game Commission announced a recently completed large-scale road project in the Meadow Grounds Lake area of State Game Lands (SGL) 53 in Fulton County. The project, totaling 2.8 miles, includes improvements to three separate roads. The new road system provides vehicle access to Meadow Grounds Lake and the surrounding state game lands.

One of the roads improved was previously gated and closed to public travel. The completion of this road project now allows for this road to be open for the fall hunting seasons. The road is over 1 mile long and allows hunters, trappers, and others to reach and explore hundreds of acres of SGL 53 south of the dam more easily. This road will be open on a seasonal basis from September through January. The other two roads will be open year-round but are not maintained or plowed during the winter months.

The roads in the Meadow Grounds Lake area are not only important for access to public hunting, fishing, and boating activities, they are also crucial for effective and responsible management of fish and wildlife habitat. These roads provide important access routes for various habitat management (logging, prescribed fire, planting, etc.) and dam maintenance activities. Not having a quality network of roads would pose a significant obstacle in managing and caring for Meadow Grounds Lake and SGL 53.

The Meadow Grounds road project was designed and implemented using technical guidance from the Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Studies, Fulton County Conservation District, and Enbridge (Texas Eastern Transmission). Culvert pipes and other water drainage features were installed, and stone was added to driving surfaces to create smoother, more stable, and long-lasting roads.

Pipeline road gate

For Information Contact:July 30, 2021
Amy B. NaboznyFor Immediate Release
 Increased public access to State Game Lands in Perry County

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is pleased to announce the opening of a new access road and parking lot on State Game Lands (SGL) 088, located in Juniata and Perry counties. The new half-mile access road and parking lot is located off Mountain Road (SR 3006) in Spruce Hill Township, Juniata County. The roadway will be open year-round and provides the only access point to this state game lands on the Juniata County side of Tuscarora Mountain.

Southcentral Region Director Mike Beahm said “the PA Game Commission has been prioritizing road maintenance projects that improve game lands infrastructure and increase access for game lands users. This project is a perfect example of the kind of investment we want to be making on our game lands system.”

Jeffrey Mock, Southcentral Region Land Management Supervisor, credited the Liverpool Habitat Crew for their diligence in identifying and prioritizing this road improvement project. “This project greatly improves access for all users of this game lands. Previously, the only access was off the top of the ridge, now there is access and parking on the lower slopes of the property.” This area of Juniata County has a high density of Amish residents, “the Liverpool Crew recognized this and felt it was important to install a hitching post in the parking lot for the Amish to use. This is a great example of the level of customer service we are striving to provide to our users of game lands,” Mock said.

This road improvement project was built on an old logging road that was heavily eroded by water. In addition to improving public access, this project will also improve water quality in the Juniata River Watershed. An unnamed tributary to Tuscarora Creek parallels the road so designing had to be done to high standards. The road construction adheres to all Penn State Center for Dirt and Gravel Road standards ensuring that soil erosion and stream siltation have been eliminated from this section of road.

We welcome the public to utilize this new access and report any damages or misuse immediately. These projects are invaluable to provide greater access to the public to large state game land tracts such as the 7,000 acres that SGL 088 encompasses. Hopefully more sportsmen and women will have the chance to utilize this roadway to explore new hunting and trapping locations.

For Information Contact:June 10, 2021
Amy B. NaboznyFor Immediate Release
 Peregrine Falcons Return to Central Pennsylvania After Decades of Absence

Regarded as one of the most spectacular birds of prey, the peregrine falcon has been observed nesting in Huntingdon County this year. This is big news considering you'd have to look back more than 80 years to find another record of peregrines nesting in the county. In fact, the last reported nests to have held a pair of adult peregrines or to have produced young in Huntingdon County were "near Mapleton or possibly Mount Union" in 1921, "somewhere near Spruce Creek" in 1936, and an unconfirmed pair somewhere "in Huntingdon" in 1928, although it is unclear if that last record was for the Borough or the County. However, this year, astute and avid local birders Greg and Deb Grove and Dave Kyler recently confirmed what may prove to be the first known peregrine falcon nest in Huntingdon County in over 80 years. When learning of this news, Pennsylvania Game Commission's Southcentral Region Wildlife Management Supervisor, Justin Vreeland stated, "To hear of them returning to rural Huntingdon County truly is wonderful and exciting news and proof that the species continues to recover from years of intentional persecution and inadvertent poisoning. PGC staff surveyed known historic sites, as well as several other likely sites in Mifflin and Huntingdon counties but detected no birds. So, it's thanks to folks like Kyler and the Groves that we now know of this pair."

Historically, peregrines nested on cliff ledges, quarries, or other inaccessible and undisturbed locations overlooking rivers, where the female would scrape a shallow hollow into the soil, sand, or gravel. More recently, as peregrine numbers increased following reintroduction programs, peregrines mostly exist in or near urban areas, on artificial structures like bridges, tall buildings, and utility towers.  These urban areas provide ample access to prey like pigeons, starlings, and house sparrows, making for comparatively easy hunting. Like most birds, peregrines are territorial, so there's only so much room for them with limited prey resources in certain areas. This may be why new pairs, possibly the young from nests reared in Pennsylvania, are venturing farther into rural areas where they once were more common. In fact, almost 20 of the nest sites used last year in Pennsylvania were on natural surfaces like remote, steep cliffs. Though it is unknown if this is the case for this recently discovered pair in the county, the news is certainly exciting and something to be celebrated as it showcases the success story that this species has endured. 

Peregrine falcons, diverse nesters across the eastern United States in the early 1900s, were all but wiped out by the early 1960s.  Suffering the catastrophic effects of DDT, peregrine numbers fell from as many as 44 nesting pairs in our state to being eliminated from the entire eastern United States in the early decades of the 20th century. In fact, there were no known nesting records in Pennsylvania between 1959 and 1987. Subsequently, the peregrine was placed on the federal and state endangered species lists. With many years of dramatic conservation efforts by the Peregrine Fund, Inc. and the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the peregrine falcon subsequently experienced one of the most dramatic recoveries of any endangered species. 

The Game Commission began trying to reintroduce peregrine populations back into the state in the late 1970s, though the first successful reintroduction didn't occur until 1981. At this time, four peregrines were hacked and eventually released on a ledge of the Philadelphia National Bank. Hacking is a process when young birds are placed in an artificial nest where they can be fed without imprinting on humans. To date, nests in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia continue to be productive.

The peregrine is not only the fastest bird, but the fastest animal on the planet, reaching speeds of 200 mph or more when diving on prey.  The peregrine feeds primarily on other birds and often snatches them out of the air, taking prey by surprise. It often hunts by flying very high and then swooping on the prey in a spectacular dive. Large prey may be knocked out of the air and fed upon on the ground. With excellent binocular vision, the peregrine's eyesight is at least eight times that of a human. With the ability to spot prey from almost 2 miles away, not much escapes the speed and keen eyesight of the peregrine.

Today the peregrine falcon remains on the Pennsylvania threatened species list and protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and the Game and Wildlife Code. In fact, the mere disturbance or harassment of these birds, carries stiff penalties. Protecting existing nest sites and potential habitat to accommodate increasing peregrine population levels is extremely important. If you wish to get an up-close look at a pair of nesting peregrines the Pennsylvania Game Commission encourages you to view the live web camera of the peregrines nesting a top the Rachel Carson State Office Building in Harrisburg

For Information Contact:May 10, 2021

Chris Skipper, 814-643-1831

For Immediate Release
 State Game Lands 322 Clean-Up 

What:  The Pennsylvania Game Commission will be participating in the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Program by cleaning up trash in State Game Lands parking areas and roadways and are seeking volunteers willing to help in the effort. 

Where:  The clean-up is scheduled for State Game Lands 322 along the Petersburg Pike between Huntingdon and Petersburg for approximately a 3-mile area. 

When:  Sunday, May 23, 2021 from 9am till noon.

Additional Info.:  Meeting location will be the Game Commission headquarters building on State Game Lands 322 located at 8877 Petersburg Pike, Petersburg, Pa 16669. All participants will be required to sign a volunteer waiver and registration will begin at 8:30am. Light refreshments will be available. Due to limited parking, carpooling is highly encouraged. Masks are requested to be worn during the registration/briefing period at the headquarters building. Garbage bags will be provided, and a limited number of gloves and safety orange vests will be available on a first come, first serve basis.  Bringing personal gloves and safety vest is encouraged so limited supplies can be distributed to those in need. For additional information, please contact State Game Warden Chris Skipper at 814-643-1831.

For Information Contact:October 16, 2020
Amy B. NaboznyFor Immediate Release
 The Altoona Water Authority (AWA) has entered two recently acquired properties into agreement with the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

The Altoona Water Authority (AWA) has entered two recently acquired properties into agreement with the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

A 2,459-acre tract of land known locally as the “Big Murph” (Paul Coonies), has been enrolled into the Hunter Access Program. The “Big Murph” track is east of Coupon Gallitzin Road and north of Veterans Memorial Highway. The property is in Dean Township, Cambria County and the main portion in Logan Township, Blair County.

A second acquired property formally known as the “Helsel Property,” has also been enrolled into the Hunter Access Program. This property consisting of 302 acres, is located on the Chestnut Flats just south of State Route 36 in Logan Township, Blair County.

The Hunter Access Program will allow public access to these two properties for the purpose of hunting and trapping. The cooperation between the AWA and the Game Commission will bring about positive habitat, expanded hunting and trapping opportunities and the enforcement of Game Commission laws and regulations on these locations. Travel by motorized vehicle on these properties is strictly prohibited and will be enforced by wardens. The two AWA acquired properties have been areas heavily used by ATV/UTV riders and off-roaders in the past. Under the Hunter Access Program agreement these activities are no longer lawful and those apprehended in violation will be cited accordingly.

The Hunter Access Program allows the Game Commission to partner with private landowners to provide public hunting opportunities. Created in 1936, the Game Commission’s Hunter Access Program began as an experimental program cooperative designed to increase hunting territory, improve game conditions, and improve wildlife habitat. More than 13,000 separate parcels of private lands are currently enrolled in the agency's Hunter Access Program. These properties, located in most of the state's 67 counties, cover more than 2.18 million acres.