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Southwest Region News Releases


For Information Contact:Release #09-18
Patrick L. SnicklesSeptember 4, 2018
Information & Education SupervisorFor Immediate Release
 Southwest Region Hosts Public State Game Lands Tour

BOLIVAR – The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Southwest Region will be hosting a public tour of State Game Lands 108 in northern Cambria County on Sunday, September 23rd. The tour will be from 12:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. State Game Lands 108 encompasses 23,086 acres. This tour will be a 7.5-mile, self-guided, one-way, driving tour and will highlight mountainous terrain and early fall foliage on the Allegheny Front.

Items of interest along the tour route include a rehabilitated strip-mined area, which has been converted to small-game habitat. The area also serves as a study area for grassland nesting birds, including the Henslow’s sparrow, a grassland species of special concern. Northern harriers and endangered short-eared owls also inhabit the study area. Also highlighted are tree and shrub identification, wildlife habitat food plots and a deer exclosure fence. Each tour participant will be provided a brochure with directions and information about features along the tour route.

The tour begins at the game lands access road three-tenths of a mile north of Frugality, along state Route 53, in White Township. Look for the sign. The tour will conclude on state Route 865, near Blandburg in Reade Township.

Pennsylvania Game Commission land management, forestry and law enforcement personnel will be on hand to discuss the various habitat improvement projects on this state game lands and to answer questions.

Hope to see you there!


For Information Contact:Release #08-18
Patrick L. SnicklesSeptember 4, 2018
Information & Education SupervisorFor Immediate Release
 Road Through State Game Lands 051 To Be Closed
Intermittently Now Through November For Resurfacing And Other Improvements

BOLIVAR – The Pennsylvania Game Commission Southwest Region has announced the intermittent and temporary closing of a publicly used road running through State Game Lands 051 in Dunbar Township, Fayette County; now through the end of November.

Kingan Hill Road, also known as Camp Carmel Road, is currently being resurfaced by a private contractor. The contractor will have to close the graveled portion of the road from time to time as culverts are being replaced. Hunters and others can still use the road but will have to endure occasional temporary closures until the project is completed.


For Information Contact:Release #07-18
Patrick L. SnicklesSeptember 4, 2018
Information & Education SupervisorFor Immediate Release
 State Game Lands 203 Range To Be Closed September 10 -
September 28 For Drainage Improvements

BOLIVAR – The Pennsylvania Game Commission Southwest Region has announced the closing of the entire range at State Game Lands 203 in Allegheny County; starting Monday, September 10 through Friday, September 28.

Both the rifle and pistol ranges will not be open for public use so a private contractor can safely work on much needed drainage improvements.


For Information Contact:Release #06-18
Patrick L. SnicklesJuly 12, 2018
Information & Education SupervisorFor Immediate Release
 Two Johnstown Area Residents Charged In Deer Poaching Spree Reach Plea Agreement

BOLIVAR – Several months ago, the Pennsylvania Game Commission filed charges against two Johnstown area residents as a result of a deer poaching spree that occurred over several months in the Richland, Sidman, and New Germany areas of Cambria County. State Game Warden (SGW) Seth Mesoras filed multiple charges against Luke R. Plummer, 18, Summerhill, and Jacob Lewis, also 18, Johnstown, Pa.

A plea agreement was reached where both Lewis and Plummer plead guilty to four counts each of unlawful killing or taking of big game, summary first degree game law violations in which each defendant was assessed $1,000.00 fines for each deer. Lewis and Plummer were each also assessed an additional $5,000.00 in restitution because some of the antlered deer were considered trophy class animals. In total, Lewis and Plummer each received a sentence of $9,000.00 in fines and in addition; each defendant received a fifteen year revocation of their hunting and trapping privileges.

State Game Warden Seth Mesoras stated “Without the concern and timely information provided by several local citizens, this investigation might still be on-going. We are very grateful for the high value placed on our wildlife resources by our local residents.”

If you witness a wildlife crime against big game (deer, bear turkey or elk) or a species that is protected, endangered or threatened; call Operation Game Thief’s toll-free hotline at 1-888-PGC-8001 or fill out an “Operation Game Thief Reporting Form” online at the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s website: www.pgc.pa.gov. Violations can be reported 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Calls to the Operation Game Thief hotline are answered by a secure recording device. You can remain anonymous, however it is beneficial to provide your contact information so an officer can ask follow-up questions. Callers can still remain confidential, however, those who wish to claim any monetary reward must provide contact information. Other violations should be reported to the regional office serving the county in which the violation is taking place as soon as possible.


For Information Contact:Release #05-18
Patrick L. SnicklesJune 28, 2018
Information & Education SupervisorFor Immediate Release
 Peregrine Falcon Fledgling Found On Elizabeth Bridge Successfully Fostered To A Wild Peregrine Nest

BOLIVAR – On June 25th the Pennsylvania Game Commission successfully fostered an injured peregrine falcon fledgling from the Elizabeth Bridge nest in Pittsburgh to a cliffside nest located in the northeast region of the state. The nest was selected because it currently has peregrine chick fledglings very close to the same age and stage of development as the injured peregrine chick.

The Elizabeth Bridge peregrine chick was found injured on the bridge and taken to the state permitted Wildlife Works rehabilitation facility in Youngwood on June 3rd. There the peregrine fledgling was successfully treated for a head trauma injury and cleared by a veterinarian for release.

The Elizabeth Bridge nest had at least two peregrine falcon fledglings. A few days after the injured peregrine was rescued, Game Warden Doug Bergman collected a dead peregrine fledgling from the bridge, evidently hit by a vehicle.

With the largest proportion of Pennsylvania’s peregrine nests found on human structures, it’s inevitable that some conflicts will arise. In an effort to facilitate successful nesting, the PGC closely coordinates with various entities who own and operate structures where peregrine falcons nest in an attempt to ensure potential impacts to nesting peregrines are avoided. Unfortunately, the avoidance of impacts are not always possible. In this case, the fledglings were in close proximity to a high volume of vehicular traffic.

Peregrine falcons are classified as an endangered species in Pennsylvania.


For Information Contact:Release #03-18
Patrick L. SnicklesFebruary 5, 2018
Information & Education SupervisorFor Immediate Release
 State Gamelands 203 Rifle Range To Be Closed February 15 & 16 For Building Demolition

BOLIVAR – The Pennsylvania Game Commission Southwest Region has announced the closing of the rifle range at State Game Lands 203 in Allegheny County for two days in February.

The rifle range will not be open for public use on Feb. 15 or 16 so agency personnel can safely demolish an old building.

Southwest Region Land Management Supervisor Scott Tomlinson stated, “This demolition is in preparation for a new maintenance building better suited to the upkeep of the recently renovated range.”

Keep in mind, the handgun range will not be affected and will remain open during these two days for normal use.


For Information Contact:Release #02-18
Patrick L. SnicklesJanuary 26, 2018
Information & Education SupervisorFor Immediate Release
 Multiple Charges Filed Against Two Johnstown Area Residents
 In Connection To A Deer Poaching Spree

BOLIVAR – The Pennsylvania Game Commission has filed charges against two Johnstown area residents as a result of a deer poaching spree that occurred over the past several months in the Richland, Sidman, and New Germany areas of Cambria County. State Game Warden (SGW) Seth Mesoras filed multiple charges against Luke R. Plummer, 18, Summerhill, and Jacob Lewis, also 18, Johnstown, Pa.

After State Game Wardens became aware of the poaching they immediately started investigating the case, attempting to catch the individuals responsible. But it wasn’t until recently that several crucial tips were provided by different informants that the necessary information and evidence were gained in order to charge the defendants. “It was timely information provided by concerned local citizens that led to the apprehension of the defendants,” stated SGW Mesoras.

SGW Mesoras has filed charges with Magisterial District Judge Rick Varner’s office in Sidman, Pa. The criminal complaint against Plummer contains the following charges:

  1. Unlawful killing or taking of big game – three counts, felony third degree.
  2. Unlawful killing or taking of big game – two counts, misdemeanor first degree.
  3. Unlawful killing or taking of big game – two counts, misdemeanor ungraded.
  4. Unlawful use of lights while hunting – seven counts, summary fifth degree.
  5. Loaded firearms in vehicles - four counts, summary fourth degree.
  6. Retrieval and disposition of killed or wounded game or wildlife – three counts, summary fourth degree.
  7. Littering and restrictions on vehicles – two counts, summary third degree.

The criminal complaint against Lewis contains the following charges:

  1. Unlawful killing or taking of big game – six counts, felony third degree.
  2. Unlawful killing or taking of big game – two counts, misdemeanor first degree.
  3. Unlawful killing or taking of big game – two counts, misdemeanor ungraded.
  4. Unlawful use of lights while hunting – ten counts, summary fifth degree.
  5. Loaded firearms in vehicles – four counts, summary fourth degree.
  6. Retrieval and disposition of killed or wounded game or wildlife – four counts, summary fourth degree.
  7. Littering and restrictions on vehicles – three counts, summary third degree.

SGW Seth Mesoras stated, “Although it is satisfying knowing the hard work paid off in this particular case there are still other areas in Cambria County where poaching has occurred and individuals were not apprehended. We greatly appreciate the public’s assistance in providing information regarding these wildlife crimes.”

If you witness a wildlife crime against big game (deer, bear turkey or elk) or a species that is protected, endangered or threatened; call Operation Game Thief’s toll-free hotline at 1-888-PGC-8001 or fill out an “Operation Game Thief Reporting Form” online at the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s website: www.pgc.pa.gov. Violations can be reported 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Calls to the Operation Game Thief hotline are answered by a secure recording device. You can remain anonymous, however it is beneficial to provide your contact information so an officer can ask follow-up questions. Callers can still remain confidential, however, those who wish to claim any monetary reward must provide contact information. Other violations should be reported to the regional office serving the county in which the violation is taking place as soon as possible.


For Information Contact:Release #01-18
Patrick L. SnicklesJanuary 12, 2018
Information & Education SupervisorFor Immediate Release
 Chronic Wasting Disease Open House Announced

BOLIVAR – The Pennsylvania Game Commission will conduct an Open House about chronic wasting disease (CWD) on Wednesday, January 31, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Portage Area High School, 85 Mountain Avenue, Portage, Pa. 15946; in the school cafeteria.

The “Open House” format is designed to maximize opportunities for citizens to access information on the topics that are important to them. There are no formal presentations. Five self-explanatory stations will guide citizens through several topics including: “what is CWD, specific information related to Disease Management Area 2 (DMA2), regulations specific to DMAs, Pennsylvania Game Commission actions taken regarding this important wildlife health issue, and proposed Pennsylvania Game Commission actions related to continued disease surveillance.

Participants may arrive at their convenience between 6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Agency staff will be on hand to interact on a one-on-one basis and answer questions. An opportunity will be provided for participants to provide written comments after participating in the “Open House.”

Chronic Wasting Disease is a member of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) family of diseases. Once contracted, it is fatal to cervids including deer and elk.