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Wild About PA



Read Marcus Schneck's blog on the great outdoors of Central Pennsylvania.



Last Build Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2017 13:45:23 UTC

Copyright: Copyright 2017
 



Much of Central Pennsylvania still waiting for cicadamania 2013

Wed, 05 Jun 2013 14:00:48 UTC

2013-06-05T15:33:20Z

Where are the cicadas of Brood II?

The explosive emergence of 17-year periodical cicadas expected about now has yet to fully materialize in many parts of Central Pennsylvania, and may indeed not materialize this year.

Brood II, which is the group of the large insects emerging this year, has never been as abundant or widespread as the gargantuan Brood X, which also is known as the Great Eastern Brood. However, some areas like Bergen County, N.J., have seen millions of cicadas emerge in the past couple weeks.
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And, some locations in Central Pennsylvania - notably the Williams Valley/Lykens Valley area between Tower City and the Millersburg-Halifax area - have seen large numbers of cicadas, accompanied by the trademark deafening buzz of the insects in some spots.

Greg Hoover, ornamental entomologist in Penn State's Department of Entomology and one of the leading cicada authorities in Pennsylvania, said one of the questions he's hearing most often from the media the past few days is "Why don't we have them?"

Part of the answer is the smaller nature of Brood II, but another part is that many areas no longer have "an abundance of uninterrupted woodlands" favored by periodical cicadas they once did. The third part of the answer may reside in the unseasonably cold weather just before Memorial Day, which may have held soil temperatures just below the 64 degrees Fahrenheit required to stir the cicada nymphs to leave their tunnels in the soil in search of mating opportunities.

"Some of those colder overnight temperatures may have slowed things down a bit," said Hoover.

However, he noted, areas southeast and northeast of Central Pennsylvania have seen significant emergences, hinting that "by the end of next week, the peak of the emergence will be past. We're getting close to it, if not in some of the southeastern Pennsylvania counties are past peak."

Central Pennsylvania may have one chance to yet see some emergence out of Brood II, and that chance lies in the rainfall forecast the weekend.

"A rainfall event really triggers" the full emergence," explained Hoover.

If you spot cicadas, please report your sighting to mschneck@pennlive.com.


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Penn State forestry students make annual climb of 142-foot tree

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 13:45:00 UTC

2017-01-17T13:45:23Z

Penn State Mont Alto arboriculture class ends 15-week class in safely and efficiently climbing trees to properly care for them with Big Tree Climb.




When will the Hanover nestcam bald eagles produce eggs?

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 16:30:00 UTC

2017-01-13T17:37:31Z

The pair of bald eagles at the nest near Codorus State Park at Hanover have demonstrated a fairly consistent timing for egg laying over the past two years. Watch video

The adult bald eagles at the nest near Codorus State Park at Hanover, York County, have been active at the nest, but have not yet shown any behaviors that would signal imminent egg-laying.

They've brought new sticks to the nest and threaded them into position. They've shared and squabbled over several meals, including an opossum and a gray squirrel. They've been spending considerable time together.

All of those behaviors are part of eagle courtship, bonding and mating ritual process.

According to the Raptor Research Project, "other behaviors that will deepen their commitment while bonding" will include "perching together, rubbing against each other, beak kissing, vocalizing, hunting together and sharing prey."

All of that, plus some spectacular, talon-locking courtship flights, will eventually lead up to the female signaling "her readiness to mate in a dominance display by gently 'footing' her mate, wiggling her tail or mounting him while vocalizing."

And then, 5-10 days after copulating, the female will lay her first egg, which usually is followed by a second egg a few days later and rarely a third a bit later.

Bald eagles in Pennsylvania: You might be surprised

In the two years that the Pennsylvania Game Commission and partners have monitored the nest near Hanover with a live-streaming webcam, mid-February has been egg-laying time.

Last year, the female laid the first egg on Feb. 18 and the second on Feb. 21. One of the eggs hatched on March 28, but the chick died. The other egg never hatched.

In 2015, the first egg was laid on Feb. 14 and the second on Feb. 27. The first hatched on March 24. The second hatched on March 25. The two eaglets fledged on June 22.

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Coyote hunts in Pennsylvania, at least 23 in 2017

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 15:51:00 UTC

2017-01-13T15:51:42Z

Prize money, love of the sport, predator control attract thousands of Pennsylvania coyote hunters into organized hunts across the state. Watch video More than 4,000 hunters are expected to register for this year's Mosquito Creek Sportsmen's Association coyote hunt, the biggest and longest-running coyote hunt in Pennsylvania. The Clearfield County- based organization, which will run its statewide hunt Feb. 17-19, annually attracts the largest number of hunters and sees the largest number of coyotes killed because of the large pot of prize money offered in the contest. Last year, a 15-year-old 10th-grader walked away with $13,185 for a 46.5-pound, Clearfield County coyote, which was the largest overall and the largest female in a field of 186 coyotes weighed-in by hunters. Second prize was $4,983 for a 45.5-pound, Sullivan County coyote. Third prize was $3,322 for a 44.5-pound, Centre County coyote. Every coyote entered into the contest earned $90 for the successful hunter. Learn more about the Mosquito Creek Sportsmen's Association coyote hunt Money like that maintains Mosquito Creek's position at the top of the organized coyote-hunting world in Pennsylvania, where at least 23 hunts will be held this year, and leads other organizations - six this year - to hold their hunts over the same weekend. Many coyotes are weighed into several contests. A pair of organizations - Shavers Creek and Tubmill Trout Club - have dropped their coyote hunts this year and a hunt based in Sullivan County, New York, has expanded the area of Pennsylvania from which coyotes will be accepted into the contest. While there are exceptions, most hunts allow for coyote hunting anywhere in Pennsylvania. Here's the schedule of hunts for 2017: Jan. 20-22 - Endless Mountain Coon Hunters, Springville, 12th annual, www.endlessmountaincoonhunters.com; Little Valley Sportsmen, Saxton, 814-635-3681; Paul's Trading Post, Kane, third annual, 814-945-6504; United Sportsman Camp 271, Huntingdon Mills, 15th annual, www.huntingtonmillssportsmen.com; Woodcock Valley Sportsmen's Club, James Creek, sixth annual, http://wvsa.webs.com. Jan. 27-29 - District 9 Pennsylvania Trappers Association, Tunkhannock, 570-942-6895; Jerome Sportsmen, Jerome, ninth annual, 814-483-0084. 11 things you don't know about coyotes in Pennsylvania Feb. 10-12 - Cresson Community Sportsman's Association, Cresson, 10th annual, www.cressonsportsmans.com; Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs of Sullivan County, New York, 10th annual, www.sportsmensfederation.com; St. Clair Tremont Trap and Field Club, Johnstown, 15th annual, 814-6109-5373. Feb. 11-18 - Port Clinton Fish and Game Association, Port Clinton, 14th annual, www.portclintonfishandgame.com. Feb. 12-19 - Pennsylvania State Hunters Organization, Newport, 12th annual, 717-444-7061. Feb. 17-19 - Colver Sportsmen's Club, Colver, www.colversports.com; Laurel Highlands Predator Hunt, Mount Pleasant, 724-455-5217; Mosquito Creek Sportsmen's Association, Frenchville, 26th annual, www.mosqcreek.com; Rolfe Beagle Club, Johnsonburg, 814-964-2961; St. Marys Sportsmen, St. Marys, 14th annual, www.stmaryssportsmen.org; Sigel Sportsmen's Club, Sigel, www.sigelsportsmensclub.com; Sinnemahoning Sportsmen's Association, Sinnemahoning, 12th annual, 814-546-2835. Feb. 17-25 - Ellsworth Sportsmen's Club, Scenery Hill, third annual, www.esc15360.com. Feb. 24-26 -  Sullivan County Coyote Hunt, Laporte, 12th annual, www.sullivancountycoyotehunt.org. March 3-5 - Liberty Township Sportsmen's Association, Blanchard, fifth annual, www.libertysportsmen.com. March 11-12 - Corydon Township Coyote Hunt, Bradford, 18th annual, 814-598-0752. More from PennLive [...]


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Why is January's full moon known as the full wolf moon?

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 15:00:00 UTC

2017-01-11T16:56:40Z

Native Americans, who lived closer to their environment, faced a very real reminder of why they knew it as the full wolf moon. Watch video

The full wolf moon will hit its peak at 6:34 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 12.

When wolves were a widespread, top-tier predator across the North American landscape, including the area that today is Pennsylvania, the full moon of January was known by Native Americans and early European settlers as the full wolf moon.

Those earlier peoples lived their daily lives in proximity to the large canines. As the depths of winter closed in on them in January, the wolves could be heard howling just outside the village and at the edge of the homestead, where they foraged for scraps left by the humans and posed a constant threat.

Today, with a wolf-sized, wolf-coyote hybrid roaming most of Pennsylvania and much of the rest of eastern North America, tomorrow's full moon might more appropriately be called the full coywolf moon or full coyote moon.

Some Native Americans also knew the January full moon as the old moon, acknowledging that while winter still held sway, the newness of spring was on the way.

The most 'Pennsylvania' things at the Farm Show

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Bald eagles in Pennsylvania: You might be surprised by the facts

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 13:45:00 UTC

2017-01-11T15:24:11Z

Like many large, charismatic species, the bald eagle is the focus of a great deal of misinformation and unfounded lore.




Where are your best chances to see bald eagles in Pennsylvania?

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 13:45:00 UTC

2017-01-09T13:46:00Z

The bald eagle population has grown and spread across Pennsylvania to the point that most of us now live within a few miles of some likely spot for viewing the big birds of prey. Some spots, particularly those around large bodies of water, draw larger numbers of the birds than others. Here are some of the best eagle-watching locations in Pennsylvania.




First meteor shower of 2017 hits its peak tonight

Tue, 03 Jan 2017 14:00:00 UTC

2017-01-03T16:43:49Z

Cloud cover threatens viewing possibilities for Quadrantid meteor shower, but could clear before the peak passes.

Cloud cover may or may not clear in time for viewing the first meteor shower of 2017, the Quadrantids, which will peak tonight and Wednesday.

A waxing crescent moon will be setting during the evening hours, presenting prime viewing opportunities between midnight and dawn each day, if the clouds break. The forecast for tonight indicates break-up will begin around 3 a.m.

Seven great spots for stargazing in Pennsylvania

However, even under the best of weather conditions, the Quadrantids are an iffy meteor shower. On occasion it can rival more productive showers like the Perseids in August and the Geminids in December, showing 50-100 or more meteors per hour, but often can present far fewer shooting stars.

While the meteors will seem to radiate from the northern night sky, they cross the entire sky, making any upward gaze a good choice of viewing position. Find a spot under dark skies, away from city lights, lay or sit facing north, and look up.

The Quadrantids are named for an officially defunct constellation, Quadrans Muralis. The International Astronomical Union left the constellation off its official list in 1922, but the Quadrantids had already been named.

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Montana pheasants in Pennsylvania: How have they fared?

Tue, 03 Jan 2017 13:45:00 UTC

2017-01-03T13:45:13Z

Pheasants Forever project with the Pennsylvania Game Commission builds on 2014 infusion of wild, western birds. Watch video Pheasants from Montana released into Franklin County two years - or more likely their descendants - have those familiar with the birds "cautiously optimistic" that they are "reproducing and successfully raising broods" of pheasant chicks. A recent flushing survey by a dozen Pheasants Forever volunteers and their bird dogs across 100 acres of prime pheasant habitat in the Wild Pheasant Recovery Area near Mercersburg chased more than 30 birds into the air. Except in the few days after a stocking of farm-raised pheasants by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, flushing more than 30 birds across 100 acres is unheard of anywhere in Pennsylvania outside of a WPRA. However, the total number of birds observed during a flushing survey is not the most important bit of data, according to commission Wildlife Biologist Tom Keller. Some birds may be counted more than once in a flushing survey. However, the process produces an accurate assessment of population sex ratio, which comes into play later this year, when volunteers and biologists will generate population estimates from males heard crowing in the spring. In the flushing survey, the birds were counted at a ratio of 1.5 females to each male, which is closer to the generally accepted maintenance level for non-hunted pheasant populations of one to one than the two to one ratio produced by a flushing survey in December 2015. As the average lifespan for a wild pheasant is two years, and stocking of other pheasants into the WPRA is prohibited, the current population must include birds produced by the original Montana pheasants as well as their offspring and their offspring's offspring. How many pheasants did the 2015 flushing count find? The Montana pheasants - 62 of them - arrived in Franklin County and were released onto the Brian Brake farm in March 2014. They were trapped from the wild on a Crow reservation in Montana, crated and air-freighted into Baltimore-Washington International Airport, trucked to the Brake farm, fitted with radio-tracking collars and released. Four wild-caught birds from the Central Susquehanna WPRA in Columbia, Lycoming, Montour and Northumberland counties were released with the Montana birds to adjust the initial hen-to-rooster ratio. According to the commission, a WPRA is an area designated "for the release of wild pheasants that are trapped in western states and transferred to Pennsylvania. The goal of a WPRA is to establish a sustainable wild pheasant population that can be hunted." What happens when 200,000 farm-raised pheasants are released across Pennsylvania? Key to achieving that goal is habitat that provides year-round cover for the birds.  The Brake farm contains long strips of dense switchgrass, providing nesting areas in spring and thermal cover in winter. Between the strips are fields of corn stubble for food, as well as hedgerows for winter cover and roosting.  The property provides an ideal mix of vegetation types to support not only pheasants, but also rabbits, deer, and a variety of other ground-nesting birds, like eastern meadowlarks, savannah sparrows and northern harriers in winter. However, the WPRA does not support enough birds to have an open hunting season and a sustainable pheasant population - the ultimate goals for a WPRA. Pheasants Forever Biologist Stefan Karkuff noted, "We currently don't have enough birds across the landscape to sustain a huntable population. These birds are limited to a few hundred acres of suitable habitat surrounded by a sea of farmland lacking acceptable pheasant cover. This means the birds can't spread out and the population can't grow." Volunteers with the Cumberland Va[...]


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Learn the fine art of fly tying in classes across Pennsylvania

Mon, 02 Jan 2017 13:05:00 UTC

2017-01-02T13:07:23Z

If you've ever wanted to tie feather and fur to hook in an imitation of something trout eat, here's your chance to learn. Watch video Fly-tying skills will be demonstrated and taught by some of the region's top fly-tiers in programs and classes offered by sportsmen's organizations and others. Yellow Breeches Anglers, Boiling Springs, will sponsor eight weeks of free fly-tying classes beginning Thursday, Jan. 5.  Each class will run from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Some equipment and materials will be provided. For more information, contact Craig Hull at 717-686-5137 or chull@troutgetter.com for more information. Carlisle Fish and Game Association, Carlisle, will host some of the region's top fly-tiers in free weekly demonstrations/classes on Fridays, Jan. 6-March 10.  The tier schedule will be Jan. 6, Bobby Clouser, tying the D. D. Minnow and Deceiver; Jan. 13, Jake Villwock, Steelhead Stone Fly; Jan. 20, Ken Okorn, Ausable Bomber and Usual; Jan. 27, Skip Shreve, Sparkle Emerger; Feb. 3, Brian Shumaker, Shumaker's Shimmering Minnow; Feb. 10, Rick Holmes, Dahlberg Diver; Feb. 17, Tom Livingston, CDC Streamer; Feb. 24, Matt Knaub, Stimulator Dry; March 3, Tony Dranzo, Sulfur Wet; and March 10, Charlie Barnett, Swimming Nymph. Check out the sport of fly fishing Cumberland Valley Trout Unlimited and South Middleton Township Parks and Recreation will offer beginner and experienced/advanced fly-tying classes sessions from 7-9 p.m. Tuesdays, Jan. 10-Feb. 28, at Boiling Springs High School.  Students in the beginner course will learn to tie 6-8 flies while also gaining crucial skills, knowledge and techniques for the upcoming fly-fishing season.  Fly tying material, a hook kit and instructional material will be provided. Those under 16 must be accompanied by a registered adult. For the experienced/advanced course, a list of patterns and required materials will be provided in advance. While there is often extra material for use at each class, advanced tiers are responsible for their own kit and are encouraged to tie alongside the guest instructor. HD video of the week's pattern will be available for viewing on the CVTU Facebook page. Fee for the courses is $25 for township residents and $31 for non-residents. Registration may be completed online through the Parks and Recreation Online Program Registration or by calling 717-258-4441. Trout fishing lures almost too pretty to take fishing Veteran fly fishermen Bruce Schneck and Tony Mione, and other members of Schuylkill County Trout Unlimited, will lead fly-tying classes from 6-8 p.m. Thursdays, Jan. 12, 19 and 26, at the Sweet Arrow Lake County Park clubhouse, Pine Grove. Classes are free, but limited to 30 students. Advance registration is recommended by calling 717-979-0235 or 717-829-4301.  Cabela's in Hamburg will offer a nine-week fly-tying course beginning Wednesday, Feb. 1. Each class will run from 6-8 p.m. The first meeting will be an introductory class in fly fishing techniques and equipment, and fly tying tools and materials. The following seven weeks will be hands-on fly tying experience. And, the final class will be a field trip to a local stream to study aquatic invertebrates associated with the food that fish feed on and anglers attempt to imitate with their flies. The class will be taught by Outfitter Tom Coe, the store's resident fly-tying expert. Students will be responsible for all materials needed for the class. The class will be limited to 15 and pre-registration is required. Contact Ron Leh at 610-929-7089 for more information and a full course listing. More from PennLive [...]


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When and how to catch the first meteor shower of 2017

Sun, 01 Jan 2017 15:27:55 UTC

2017-01-01T15:36:20Z

Weather permitting, the Quadrantid meteor shower can produce 50-100 meteors per hour in an exceptional year.

The first meteor shower of 2017 - the Quadrantids - will peak Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 3 and 4.

A waxing crescent moon will be setting during the evening hours, presenting prime viewing opportunities between midnight and dawn each day.

However, weather conditions may be less than prime, with rain forecast for Tuesday and intermittent clouds predicted on Wednesday.

Best stargazing spots in Pennsylvania

Even under the best of viewing conditions, the Quadrantids are an iffy meteor shower. On occasion it can rival more productive showers like the Perseids in August and the Geminids in December, showing 50-100 or more meteors per hour.

The meteors will seem to radiate from the northern night sky, but they cross the entire sky, making any upward gaze a good choice. Find a spot under dark skies, away from city lights, lay or sit facing north, and look up.

The Quadrantids are named for an officially defunct constellation, Quadrans Muralis. The International Astronomical Union left the constellation off its official list in 1922, but the Quadrantids had already been named.

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Comet to make New Year's Eve passing early tonight

Sat, 31 Dec 2016 16:35:32 UTC

2017-01-01T13:27:10Z

Weather permitting, Comet 45P will be visible near the moon with telescope or binoculars.

A New Year's Eve comet will appear next to the crescent moon shortly after sunset tonight.

Although forecasted cloud cover could blot out the comet, it will be in the sky for a few hours before setting with the moon.

The comet will be too dim for viewing with the naked eye. However, weather permitting, it should be easy to see through a telescope or a strong pair of binoculars.

It will appear as a blueish green object trailing a fan-shaped tail.

Earth passed through the debris of Halley's Comet in October

Comet 45P, also known as Comet Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova, has been moving across the night sky for several weeks, en route to its rendezvous with the crescent moon tonight.

Also in tonight's night sky, Venus will be the brightest object after the moon. Mars will appear as a red dot higher in the sky than Venus. With telescope or binoculars, Neptune will be found close to Mars.

Comet 45P will disappear from the night sky early in the new year, as it passes behind the sun. It will reappear in February, although viewing it still will require a telescope or pair of binoculars.

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Bald eagle nest cam back in operation at Codorus State Park

Fri, 30 Dec 2016 15:36:00 UTC

2016-12-30T16:17:18Z

Adult bald eagle pair has repaired the nest near Hanover, York County, and are visiting regularly. Watch video

Eagle-watchers around the world are again glued to their screens, as video of a pair of bald eagles is again live-streaming from Pennsylvania Game Commission nestcams positioned at a nest near Codorus State Park, Hanover, York County.

The setup features two cameras, each equipped with a microphone, running 24 hours a day from 75 feet up in a tree near the park.

Although the 2016 nesting attempt was unsuccessful, bald eagles have nested in the tree for more than 10 years, and have successfully fledged young eagles from the nest several times.

Last winter, only one of two eggs hatched and the chick died shortly after. After continued attempts to hatch the remaining eggs were unsuccessful, the adult eagles eventually abandoned the nesting attempt for the year.

The aftermath of last winter's nesting failure at the Hanover bald eagle nestcam.

Then the nest partially collapsed, but the eagle pair rebuilt it and have frequented the repaired nest, apparently ready for a new nesting attempt in 2017. They shared a meal of what appeared to be an opossum as darkness fell on Thursday.

Check out the adult bald eagles' response to a partial collapse of the nest earlier this year

More than 550,000 individuals tuned into the live-streaming video last year. And, in 2015, when the eagle pair fledged two young eagles, the nestcam drew about 1.5 million viewers.

The webcam video live-streams through the Pennsylvania Game Commission website, but it is the result of cooperation among several partners.

Comcast Business and its technicians worked with the commission and HDOnTap to provide a static IP address and 100 Mbps broadband service near the nesting the site.

HDOnTap once again is providing the live-streaming services that make round-the-clock viewing possible.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Codorus State Park and Friends of Codorus also are involved in the project.

Several weeks will pass before any egg-laying or incubating will begin.

Last winter the first egg was laid on Feb. 18, the second on Feb. 21. And, one of the eggs hatched on March 28. The other egg never hatched.

In winter 2015, the first year for the nestcam, the first egg was laid Feb. 14, the second on Feb. 17. The first hatching was March 24, the second was March 25. And, the eaglets fledged from the nest on June 22.

Despite the wait for egg activity in the nest, commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough encourages viewers to check in on the nest whenever they can.

He described the view from the nestcam as "nature as it really is... no better way to observe eagles in such an up-close-and personal manner."

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Start 2017 with an adventure: Pennsylvania state parks, forests offer First Day Hikes

Wed, 28 Dec 2016 13:58:00 UTC

2016-12-28T13:58:42Z

Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources schedule Jan. 1 hikes across Pennsylvania. Watch video First Day Hikes are planned for Sunday, Jan. 1, in state parks and state forests across Pennsylvania. The free, guided hikes will be hosted by Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation friends groups and park staff. The hikes are part of America's State Parks First Day Hikes initiative, which was organized by the National Association of State Park Directors to promote healthy lifestyles throughout the year and year-round recreation at state parks. Here are First Day Hikes currently on the schedule: Beltzville State Park, Lehighton, 2 p.m. Black Moshannon State Park, Philipsburg, 1 p.m., 2-mile hike on Star Mill Trail. Caledonia State Park, Fayetteville, 11 a.m., hike beginning at the Oak Pavilion near the swimming pool. Canoe Creek State Park, Hollidaysburg, 1 p.m., hike and hot beverages by the fire. Codorus State Park, Hanover, 2 p.m., leisurely, 1.5-mile hike along LaHo Trail. Cowans Gap State Park, Fort Loudon, 2 p.m., hike around the lake or up to the overlook. Delaware Canal State Park, New Hope, 1 p.m., in Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve. French Creek State Park, Elverson, 11 a.m., 3-mile hike around Hopewell Lake. Gifford Pinchot State Park, Lewisberry, 1 p.m., naturalist-led, easy to moderate walk. Greenwood Furnace State Park, Huntingdon, noon, 5-mile loop with an elevation gain of 800 feet. Hills Creek State Park, Wellsboro, 1 p.m., slow-paced, family-oriented hike of less than 1.5 miles. Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center, Nazareth, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., 2-mile interpretive hike. Jennings Environmental Education Center, Slippery Rock, 1 p.m., brisk walk on the center's longest trail, Oakwoods. Keystone State Park, Derry, 9 a.m., easy, relatively level hike around Keystone Lake. Kings Gap Environmental Education Center, Carlisle, 2 p.m., easy, 1.5-mile hike on fairly level trails in the Pine Plantation Use Area. Little Buffalo State Park, Newport, 1:30 p.m., family-friendly hike. Lyman Run State Park, Galeton, 1 p.m., slower-paced, family-oriented hike, hot chocolate and cookies. Moraine State Park, Portersville, 1 p.m., left by members of the Butler Outdoor Club. Nescopeck State Park, Drums, 1 p.m., easy 2.5-mile hike. Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center, Mohnton, 1 p.m., an easy 1-mile hike or a 3-mile hike of medium difficulty. Parker Dam State Park, Penfield, 11 a.m., hike on the Civilian Conservation Corps Trail. Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Gardners, 1 p.m., hike on the newly renovated Mountain Creek Trail. Prince Gallitzin State Park, Patton, 10 a.m., naturalist-led hike on Turkey Ridge Trail. Pymatuning State Park, Linesville, 6 p.m., Glow Hike, participants asked to bring flashlights. Raymond B. Winter State Park, Mifflinburg, 10 a.m., hike on Overlook Trail with a wintery view of the lake. Shawnee State Park, Schellsburg, 1 p.m., family-friendly, 3.5 mile along Lakeshore Trail. Sinnemahoning State Park, Austin, 10 a.m., easy, 2-mile hike on fairly level trails. Weiser State Forest, Catawissa, 10 a.m., equestrian and mountain bike rides. For more details, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' calendar of events webpage. [...]


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Reindeer once roamed Pennsylvania wild and free

Wed, 21 Dec 2016 13:35:00 UTC

2016-12-21T13:40:46Z

Long before the legend of Santa Claus was born, reindeer joined other prehistoric mammals like woolly mammoths and saber-toothed cats on a pre-Pennsylvania tundra.

Santa could have sourced his reindeer right here in Pennsylvania 12,000-15,000 years ago, according to a paleontologist at the State Museum of Pennsylvania.

Reindeer, "a little larger but very similar" to those roaming the arctic, subarctic and tundra regions of the world today, were part of the wildlife community of Pennsylvania when glaciers pressed south to the state's border with New York, "barely creeping into Pennsylvania at various points."

Steve Jazinski, acting curator of paleontology and geology with the museum, said the fossil record shows that reindeer roamed a pre-Pennsylvania landscape that was very much like southern Alaska today - tundra and open plains, with much less forest and more areas of shrubs and wetlands.

The climate was significantly colder, with short summers of temperatures in the 60s and 70s and much longer winters.

Why are there no wild reindeer in Pennsylvania today?

Reindeer herds roamed across that landscape, and "most of the U.S. at the time," said Jazinski.

They were joined by other species of megafauna like woolly mammoths, mastodons, giant ground sloths, moose, elk, stag-moose, ancient horses, camelids, giant beavers and many others.

They were hunted by saber-toothed cats, ancient wolves similar to dire wolves, and spear-wielding, hunter-gatherer humans. The humans focused on species like reindeer, moose and ancient deer.

Evidence of that human use of the megafauna in Pennsylvania has been found in various fossil caves and other sites of ancient human activity, including sites near Valley Forge and in northwestern Pennsylvania.

Jazinski noted that some of those humans were likely nomadic across the larger landscape, following the herds upon which they preyed, while others roamed much smaller ranges and hunted various herds that moved into those ranges.

Artifacts and bone fragments recovered from the Shoop site in northern Dauphin County, including more than a thousand tools like hide scrapers and 90 fluted spear points, have been interpreted as indicating that a reindeer or elk migration route nearby was visited on an annual basis by primitive human hunters.

But all that fossil evidence has revealed nothing about any red-nosed or flying reindeer in Pennsylvania, or anywhere else outside the Santa legend.

Rudolph vs. Bambi


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Bald eagle nest cam at Hanover expected back in service soon

Wed, 14 Dec 2016 13:15:00 UTC

2016-12-14T16:07:59Z

Pennsylvania Game Commission prepares to relaunch live-streaming web cam as bald eagles make repairs to their nest. Watch video

The world-famous bald eagle nest cam that live-streams video from the nest at Codorus State Park near Hanover will be back in operation within the next few weeks.

"We are hoping to launch in January, if not sooner," said Travis Lau, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

The nest cam will again live-stream through the Pennsylvania Game Commission website.

That's welcome news to the legions of viewers worldwide who were glued to their devices last winter, watching every development in the nest around the clock.

Here's an indepth look at bald eagles in Pennsylvania.

Many lost interest and stopped watching after the chick that hatched from one egg in the nest died and the second egg did not hatch.

Those that continued to check on the nest witnessed half of it collapse shortly before the commission shut down the live-stream for last winter.

Karen Lippy, an experienced birder who spends more time observing the eagles at Codorus live in the field than nearly anyone else, noted, "I think it was the squirrels that nested under the nest. You could hear them chewing all the time. But it had been sagging badly on that side from the beginning of the season."

Those that stayed with a time-lapse feed from the nest through late September saw one of the adult eagles begin dismantling what was left of the nest and rearranging it into a new, solid base.

Lippy said the pair of adult eagles have continued to work on the nest and at one point appeared to prepare a defense of their territory against two other eagles that were seen in the area. The territorial squabble never developed further.

The commission works with several partners in the nest cam project.

Last winter, Comcast Business and its technicians worked with the commission and partner HDOnTap to provide a static IP address and coordinate installation of 100 Mbps broadband service to an enclosure near the tree. HDOnTap provided the camera as well as the live streaming services available to viewers.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Codorus State Park and the Friends of Codorus State Park, Swam Electric and Sunbelt Rentals also cooperate in the effort.


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