The 2022 seedling order form is available online, and sales began this week.
                                 Submitted Photo

The 2022 seedling order form is available online, and sales began this week.

Submitted Photo

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<p>In this Times Leader file photo, Ralph Casaldi of Loyalville looks over some of the coyotes brought in during the coyote hunt at the Triton Hose Company in Tunkhannock.</p>
                                 <p>File Photo</p>

In this Times Leader file photo, Ralph Casaldi of Loyalville looks over some of the coyotes brought in during the coyote hunt at the Triton Hose Company in Tunkhannock.

File Photo

<p>A group of wild turkeys.</p>
                                 <p>File Photo</p>

A group of wild turkeys.

File Photo

DALLAS — The 22nd annual Northeast Regional Coyote Hunt, sponsored by the District 9 Pennsylvania Fur Trappers Association, is set for Feb. 4 through 6, and offers a $2,000 Grand Prize.

The $2,000 grand prize will be awarded to the hunter with the heaviest coyote. Also, a $250 daily prize will be awarded for the heaviest coyote weighed in each day, and $100 will be awarded for all other coyotes turned in during the hunt, according to event officials.

Weigh-in will be held at the Triton Hose Co., 116 West Tioga St., Tunkhannock, from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday & Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Weigh-in ends 2 p.m. sharp on Sunday, Feb. 6.

A weigh-in dinner, included in the entry fee, will be held for all entrants on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Due to past complications, no dinner tickets will be sold at the door. If you want to participate in the dinner, you must enter the hunt! Note: the entry fee has gone to $30/$35 respectively.

Coyotes taken on the three days of the hunt in Bradford, Susquehanna, Wayne, Wyoming, Lackawanna, Pike, Luzerne and Sullivan Counties may be entered for weigh-in.

For complete rules and registration information, call: 570-485-4366, or e-mail — [email protected] — “coyote hunt information” in the heading of the e-mail.

Public asked to report turkey

flocks to help with research

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is asking for the public’s help finding turkeys to trap for ongoing and new turkey projects.

The agency is encouraging Pennsylvanians to report the location of any turkey flocks they see between now and March 15.

Information is being collected online at — https://pgcdatacollection.pa.gov/TurkeyBroodSurvey.

Visitors to that webpage will be asked to provide the date of the sighting, the location, and the type of land (public, private or unknown) where birds are seen, among other things.

Game Commission crews will assess sites for the potential to trap turkeys. Turkeys will not be moved; they’ll simply be leg banded and released on site. In four Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) a sampling also will be outfitted with GPS transmitters, then be released back on site, to be monitored over time.

Trapping turkeys during winter is part of the Game Commission’s ongoing population monitoring, as well as the launch of a large-scale hen study.

Just like the last two winters, the Game Commission will put leg bands on male turkeys statewide. Hunters who harvest one of those turkeys, or people who find one dead, are asked to report the band number by either calling the toll-free number or emailing the email address on the band.

“That gives us information on annual survival rates and annual spring harvest rates for our population model,” said Mary Jo Casalena, the Game Commission’s turkey biologist.

New this year, the Game Commission will put GPS transmitters on 100 hens — 25 each in WMUs 2D, 3D, 4D and 5C — spread across all six regions of the state. The four study areas have different landscapes, turkey population densities, and spring hunter and harvest densities.

“We’re looking at hen population and movement dynamics, as well as disease prevalence,” Casalena said.

Those studies are being done in partnership with Penn State University and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wildlife Futures Program.

The population and movement portion of that work is looking at how landscape and weather impact hen nest rates, nest success, poult survival, predation, habitat use and movement. The disease portion of the study is examining how disease prevalence varies based on landscape and impacts things like the survival and nesting rates of hens of different ages.

Game Commission crews will collect various samples — blood, tracheal, feces and skin — from hens that receive backpack-style transmitters at the time of capture, too, for disease analyses.

Approximately 100 additional transmitters will be deployed each winter through 2025, so that in the end — with transmitters from hens that die being recovered and re-deployed — the Game Commission will be monitoring 400-plus transmittered hens.

Researchers from Penn State University and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wildlife Futures Program will interpret the data collected. Biologists from Maryland and possibly another state wildlife agency will join the project next year, as well.

“It’s going to be the largest turkey project we’ve ever conducted, with the hope of answering many questions regarding current hen population dynamics,” Casalena said.

Finding birds to trap is key to launching all of that work. That’s where the public comes in. Fortunately, Pennsylvanians have a history of helping out this way.

More than 3,800 people, on average, submit Wild Turkey Sighting Survey reports each summer. That information plays a key role in tracking annual turkey reproduction across the state, Casalena said.

She’s hoping the public will be as active in relaying information on the location of winter turkey flocks, too.

“The public has been so helpful in years past,” Casalena said. “So we figured we’d expand on that and ask for help locating winter flocks statewide.”

Game Commissions announces new

wildlife habitat management director

The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Bureau of Wildlife Habitat Management has a new director.

David J. Gustafson, who has worked for the agency since 2003, in his new position is responsible for overseeing and directing wildlife habitat management practices on the Game Commission’s more than 1.5 million acres of state game lands and work on private lands enrolled in the Hunter Access Program. He’ll oversee gas, oil, coal and timber operations on game lands and the Howard Nursery, which grows tree and shrub seedlings for planting on game lands and Hunter Access properties. Gustafson succeeds Peter Sussenbach, who took over as the Game Commission Southeast Region Office Director.

Gustafson graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Forest Science from Penn State in 2000. He began his career as a forester with Weaber Inc. in Lebanon in 2001, was hired as a forester by the Pennsylvania Department of Natural Resources, then in 2003, became a forester with the Game Commission in the Northwest Region.

In 2005, Gustafson was promoted to forest program specialist and helped start the agency’s Forest Inventory and Analysis Section. In 2007, he was promoted to Chief Forester of the Game Commission until his current promotion to bureau director.

Gustafson enlisted in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in 1997. In 2006, he was appointed to the rank of Second Lieutenant by Direct Commission. He served as First Lieutenant and Company Executive Officer during Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq from September 2008 until October 2009 and was decorated with numerous military honors.

“I’m honored and excited to work with the great team of staff in the Bureau of Wildlife Habitat Management, particularly overseeing the work done on our superb game lands system,” Gustafson said. “The landscape management approach with prescribed fire and forest management is making our game lands into premier wildlife habitat.”

Gustafson said he also wants to improve habitat on private lands in the Commonwealth.

“In the future, I hope to strengthen our relationships with private landowners to achieve even greater habitat impacts for wildlife in Pennsylvania,” he said. “Healthy habitat is the key to healthy wildlife, and with more than 80% of our land in Pennsylvania in private ownership, working with landowners will be key to our future success,” he added.

Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans said Gustafson brings an enthusiastic attitude and great leadership skills to the position.

“Creating and improving wildlife habitat plays a key role in the agency’s mission, and Dave, with his extensive experience in forestry, and his leadership ability obtained while serving his country in the military, will serve him and the agency well in his new position,” Burhans said.

Howard Nursery

seedling sale begins

Great growing year equates into abundant good-sized seedlings.

It’s not too early for landowners to begin making plans to improve wildlife habitat this spring and into the future by planting tree and shrub species offered by the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Howard Nursery.

The 2022 seedling order form is available online, and sales began this week.

The Howard Nursery, located in Centre County, grows tree and shrub seedlings for use on state game lands, hunter access properties, the Seedling for Schools program, and other Game Commission conservation partners. Any remaining surplus is available to Pennsylvania residents for purchase. Seedlings are sold in units of 25.

Three conifer species are available this year, including northern white cedar, and white and Norway spruce that make excellent thermal cover for a variety of wildlife.

Hardwood species include black locust, Washington hawthorn, northern red, pin, and sawtooth oak.

Shrubs include graystem and silky dogwood, northern bayberry, and ninebark. Stone says ninebark has attractive white flowers and is an excellent nectar source and pollinator.

Orders of 12 or more total units qualify for applicable discounted pricing. With the discount, prices are as low as $5.50 per unit. Regular prices range from $8 to $10 depending upon the seedling species.

To place an order call Howard Nursery at 814-355-4434 during regular hours, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Orders can be placed by FAX at 814-355-8094.

PFBC quarterly meeting

will be virtual on Jan. 24

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) will hold its quarterly business meeting on Monday, Jan. 24, beginning at 10 a.m. This meeting will be held online with Commissioners and PFBC staff participating remotely.

The public may view a live stream of the meeting by visiting — https://www.facebook.com/PaFishandBoat.

Because this meeting is being held in a virtual format, the process for accepting public comment will be different than an in-person gathering. Public comments pertaining to the agenda can be submitted by calling 717-705-7846 on Thursday, Jan. 20, at 8 a.m. until Friday, Jan. 21, at 12 p.m. Recorded comments will be limited to five minutes and will be presented to Commissioners prior to the meeting.

The full agenda for the meeting can be found on the PFBC’s website — www.fishandboat.com.

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.