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October 2012: The maximum fine for illegally harvesting fish in Pennsylvania waters has been increased from $200 to $5,000 by a law. The new law also extends the period that the state can revoke fishing and boating licenses from two to five years. The law creates a new section in the Fish and Boat code for "serious unlawful take," which increases the penalty for harvesting more than the legal daily limit of fish from a summary offense of the first degree to a misdemeanor of the second degree. It also allows the commission to collect the costs to replace the poached fish, increases the amount of time a violator can be sentenced to prison from a maximum of 90 days to two years and increases penalties for those who fish while their licenses are suspended from $200 to as much as $5,000.

 

OCTOBER 25, 2012: Donegal Lake has been producing a fair number of trout for anglers using Powerbait and maggots. A few bluegills also were being caught. Anglers fishing with minnows at Yough Dam have been picking up crappies and a few walleyes, according to the Fish and Boat Commission. Rock bass have been hitting consistently at the Yough River outflow. The trout fishing has been more sporadic. At Lake Erie, despite low water conditions, anglers have been doing well on steelhead in Walnut, Elk and Twenty Mile creeks, with wooly bugger, sucker pawn and skein all taking fish. A few steelhead reportedly have moved into Upper Elk and Crooked creeks. Anglers also have been picking up brown trout up to 9 pounds. Anglers fishing Lower Twin Lake have been getting trout on Powerbait, wax worms and maggots. Small bass have been hitting crankbaits and tube baits. On the Allegheny River, anglers have been picking up some nice smallmouth bass and decent walleyes, with the area around Highland Park productive. Shiners, minnows and tube baits have been taking fish. Lake Arthur continues to give up channel catfish to anglers fishing with chicken livers and cut bait near dark. Largemouth bass have been fairly active, too, but the walleye bite has been hit-and-miss. At Pymatuning Lake, anglers reportedly have been taking perch from the causeway, with most fish between 9 and 11 inches — and an occasional 13-incher mixed in. Minnows fished on a jighead have been taking the most fish. Crappies and walleyes also were being caught. At Lake Wilhelm, anglers have been catching bluegills by fishing with jigs tipped with a maggot or wax worm below a bobber. Bass in the 3-pound class have been hitting crankbaits. At Cross Creek Lake, anglers have been doing fairly well on crappies when fishing near dusk. Minnows have been the top bait. Yellow Creek Lake has been giving up northern pike and bass to anglers us

Pennsylvania Game Commission and Department of Agriculture officials announced Oct. 11,2012 that a captive deer in Adams County had tested positive for chronic wasting disease. It’s the first case in the state. The Department of Agriculture initially quarantined three farms where the sick 31⁄/2-year-old doe had been during her life. They later upped that to four and “depopulated” the one with deer remaining on it, or at least tried to. Nine of 10 deer were shot; one potential CWD carrier escaped and hasn’t been recaptured. CWD is a contagious fatal disease among deer and elk that produces small lesions in brains of infected animals. Agriculture, without saying so publicly, quarantined nine more deer farms, one as far west as Smethport, near Allegheny National Forest. More farms could join the quarantine list. That’s having impacts inside and outside the state. The wildlife agencies in Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire have added Pennsylvania to the list of states from which hunters may not bring back deer or elk carcasses. New York went a step further and issued an emergency order saying hunters who harvest a deer in Pennsylvania must have it butchered or mounted here; no parts are otherwise allowed across the border. Within the state, Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site, located partially within the state’s CWD management area and where deer are culled by sharpshooters, will keep killing deer. But they will stop donating the meat to food banks. David Wolfgang, a veterinarian at Penn State and member of the state’s CWD task force, has called for Game Commissioners to ban deer feeding and the use of deer urine by hunters because both can possibly spread disease. Meanwhile, the Game Commission has approached the Governor’s budget office for permission to spend more money to develop a check station for hunters who kill a deer in the disease area.

 

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