Chairman’s Message

By Chairman of the Board Randy Santucci

Another Small Game Nemesis

Over the last several years I have been trying to get the Pennsylvania Game Commission to stop proliferating and protecting Fishers, stop encouraging their expansion, and recognize them for the game predator they are. I have pushed for increased trapping and or hunting of this apex predator amidst a protectionism program from the agency. WMU by WMU the PGC is protecting the Fisher until their numbers increase. Ironically as I read my March 16th edition of the Pennsylvania Outdoor News, low and behold a staff report identifies Fishers are now becoming “A Burgeoning Population” in some areas with the PGC spinning their expansion into a good thing, as they now need to reduce and control their numbers. A hunting opportunity they claim? How many Pa. hunters consider themselves Fisher hunters? or how few ever will hunt Fishers in comparison to our small game specie hunters? Fishers, an apex predator, were reintroduced to Pennsylvania about 25 years ago by our game management agency. Why you ask? In the words of furbearer biologist Matt Lovallo in his 2016 YouTube webinar titled The Fisher Returns to Penn’s Woods, “some people” thought it was time to reintroduce them. I guarantee “some people” were not the license buying hunters of the commonwealth. Our small game situation, grouse etc. have been in decline for decades from habitat loss, disease and predation, so why bring back Fishers on top of an already problematic predation situation? They were reintroduced in part to prey on Porcupines’ a tree damaging species, and that didn’t turn out as planned. So now on top of our already massive population of coyotes that came on the scene strongly over the last 15 years, add on uncontrolled federally protected avian predation, and other predators at high levels, we small game hunters can thank the PGC biodiversity mindset for giving our small game species another top end predator to deal with. Fishers climb trees like a squirrel so they can escape any wildlife threat that confronts them. They can even take turkeys off the roost! This species existed here a century ago, but today we need to satisfy more hunters with game than back then. Poor game habitat from many reasons which include clean farming, timber legacy layers, urban sprawl, etc. are reasons why this apex predator should have NEVER been reintroduced back into today’s landscape! Let me leave you with this….The PGC stocked Snowshoe Hares to supplement our struggling hare population from 1918 to 1981 over 33,000 hares. Hares are identified by Wikipedia as being one of the Fishers favorite prey! So how much sportsman money went into that 63 years of stocking hares, to just turn around and bring in a hare predator…..the Fisher? Yes, the financial audit of this agency is long overdue as identified by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, but a performance audit like is required of the Fish Commission every 3 years should be something legislators should implement using input from the PGC funding sportsmen and women.

 

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