Here’s a press release from the PGC about bears in autumn. For more information, see the PGC website:


HARRISBURG – With tomorrow being the first day of autumn, many Pennsylvanians will be spending increasing amounts of time outdoors.  This also is when black bears become more active, setting the stage for an increase in bear sightings and possibly encounters.

Mark Ternent, Pennsylvania Game Commission black bear biologist, noted that, as fall progresses, bears will begin to increase their food intake to prepare for the upcoming denning season, which begins in mid- to late-November.  For some bears, the search for food may lead them closer to people or homes.

Ternent offered suggestions on how to reduce the likelihood that your property will attract bruins and how to best react when a bear is encountered.

“Bear activity can increase during the fall as bears try to consume as many calories as possible from any source they can find in preparation for denning,” Ternent said.  “As a result, sightings of bears can increase, particularly if natural nut and berry crops are below average.

“While Pennsylvania bears are mostly timid animals that would sooner run than confront people, residents should know a few things about how to react if they encounter a bear, or better yet, how to avoid an encounter altogether by reducing the likelihood of attracting bears in the first place.”

Ternent stressed there are no known records of a Pennsylvania black bear killing a human, and there have been fewer than 25 reported injuries resulting from black bear encounters during the past 10 years in the state.  However, deaths caused by black bears have occurred elsewhere in North America.  Pennsylvania’s bear population currently is estimated at 15,000 animals, and reports of problems because people failed to keep food away from bears are not uncommon.

“Pennsylvanians need to understand that when bears become habituated to getting food from people, it can lead to conflicts, property damage and the possibility of injury or eventual destruction of the bear,” Ternent said.  “Feeding wildlife, whether the activity is intended for birds or deer, can draw bears into an area.  Once bears become habituated to an area where they find food, they will continue to return, which is when the bear can become a real problem for homeowners and neighbors.

“Even more disturbing are the reports we receive about people intentionally feeding bears to make them more visible for viewing or photographing.”

Since March 2003, it has been illegal to intentionally feed bears in Pennsylvania.  Also, the unintentional feeding of bears which results in nuisance complaints filed with the Game Commission can result in a written warning that, if ignored, could lead to a citation and fine.

“We recognize that people enjoy viewing wildlife, and we are not attempting to impact that activity,” Ternent said.  “But, the agency has an obligation to reduce conflicts when and where we can.  All too often, human complaints about bears can be traced back to intentional or unintentional feeding.  To protect the public, as well as bears, we need to avoid the dangers of conditioning bears to finding food around homes.  It would be irresponsible to do otherwise.”

Ternent listed five recommendations to reduce the chances of having a close encounter with a black bear on a homeowner’s property:

Play it smart. Do not feed wildlife. Food placed outside for wildlife, such as corn for squirrels or deer, may attract bears.  Reconsider putting squash, pumpkins, corn stalks or other Halloween or holiday decorations outside that also may attract bears. Even bird feeders can become “bear magnets.”  Tips for how to safely feed birds for those in prime bear areas include: restrict feeding season to when bears hibernate, which is primarily from late November through late March; avoid foods that are particularly attractive for bears, such as sunflower seeds, hummingbird nectar mixes or suet; bring feeders inside at night or suspend them from high crosswires; and temporarily remove feeders for two weeks if visited by a bear.  Encourage your neighbors to do the same.

Keep it clean. Don’t place garbage outside until pick-up day; don’t throw table scraps out back for animals to eat; don’t add fruit or vegetable wastes to your compost pile; and clean your barbecue grill regularly.  If you feed pets outdoors, consider placing food dishes inside overnight.

Keep your distance. If a bear shows up in your backyard, stay calm. From a safe distance, shout at it like you would to chase an unwanted dog. If the bear won’t leave, slowly retreat and call the nearest Game Commission regional office or local police department for assistance.  Children should understand not to run, approach or hide from a bear that wanders into the yard, but, instead, to walk slowly back to the house.

Eliminate temptation. Bears that visit your area are often drawn there. Neighbors need to work together to reduce an area’s appeal to bears. Ask area businesses to keep dumpsters closed and bear-proofed (chained or locked shut).

Check please! If your dog is barking, or cat is clawing at the door to get in, try to determine what has alarmed your pet. But do it cautiously, using outside lights to full advantage and from a safe position, such as a porch or an upstairs window. All unrecognizable outside noises and disturbances should be checked, but don’t do it on foot with a flashlight. Black bears blend in too well with nighttime surroundings providing the chance for a close encounter.  If bears have been sighted near your home, it is a good practice to turn on a light and check the backyard before taking pets out at night.

“Ideally, we want bears to pass by residential areas without finding a food reward that would cause them to return and become a problem,” Ternent said.  “Capturing and moving bears that have become habituated to humans is costly and sometimes ineffective because they can return or continue the same unwanted behavior where released.  That is why wildlife agencies tell people that a ‘fed bear is a dead bear.’”

Ternent noted that although bears are no strangers to Pennsylvanians, bears are misunderstood by many.

“Bears should not be feared, nor should they be dismissed as harmless; they simply need to be respected,” Ternent said.  He also advised:

Stay Calm. If you see a bear and it hasn’t seen you, leave the area calmly.  Talk to the bear while moving away to help it discover your presence.  Choose a route that will not intersect with the bear if it is moving.

Get Back. If you have surprised a bear, slowly back away while quietly talking.  Face the bear, but avoid direct eye contact.  Do not turn and run; rapid movement may be perceived as danger to a bear that is already feeling threatened.  Avoid blocking the bear’s only escape route and try to move away from any cubs you see or hear.  Do not attempt to climb a tree.  A female bear can falsely interpret this as an attempt to get at her cubs, even though the cubs may be in a different tree.

Pay Attention. If a bear is displaying signs of nervousness or discomfort with your presence, such as pacing, swinging its head, or popping its jaws, leave the area.  Some bears may bluff charge to within a few feet.  If this occurs, stand your ground, wave your arms wildly, and shout at the bear.  Turning and running could elicit a chase and you cannot outrun a bear.  Bears that appear to be stalking should be confronted and made aware of your willingness to defend by waving your arms and yelling while you continue to back away.

Fight Back. If a bear attacks, fight back as you continue to leave the area.  Bears have been driven away with rocks, sticks, binoculars, car keys, or even bare hands.

“Learning about bears and being aware of their habits is a responsibility that comes with living in rural Pennsylvania or recreating in the outdoors,” Ternent said.

Intelligent and curious, black bears are heavy and have short, powerful legs. Adults usually weigh from 200 to 600 pounds, with rare individuals weighing up to 800 pounds. An adult male normally weighs more than an adult female, sometimes twice as much.

Bears may be on the move at anytime, but they’re usually most active during evening and morning hours. Bears are omnivorous, eating almost anything from berries, corn, acorns, beechnuts, or even grass to table scraps, carrion, honey and insects.

More information on black bears is available on the Game Commission’s website ( by selecting on “Hunting,” and then clicking on the black bear photograph.

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Our Sept./Oct. 2009 issue has an article about seeking the elusive elk in the Northern Tier of our state.

searching the elusive elk so09

You can find a low-resolution copy of that article here in PDF form: elk so 09

Here are more tips to finding elk in Pennsylvania from the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

See this link for notes about elk published by the PGC.

Video about Elk watching by the PGC. Click on the video window to pause the video. See this link to see the video on the PGC Web site:

HARRISBURG – With Commonwealth’s elk viewing season fast approaching, Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe is offering some guidance on where to go, as well as encouraging those planning to travel to “elk country” to be respectful of local residents.

“With a little guidance anyone can easily see elk this September and October, especially between Labor Day and Halloween, because the mating season, or the ‘rut,’ is on,” Roe said. “Also, as winter approaches, elk are consequently on the move. So, you don’t need to be an expert in elk biology or be intimately familiar with the region’s topography or roads to find them. Folks just need some help with where-to-go and what-to-do information when they get to this rugged, big country.

“If you do travel to Elk, Cameron, Clearfield and Clinton counties to view this majestic animal, we encourage you to be mindful of local residents and the property. Since elk viewing is better in some areas than others, it stands to reason that the largest numbers of wildlife watchers will be in those areas with the best viewing opportunities. However, wherever people congregate along narrow rural roads, the potential for problems increases, especially when motorists and wildlife viewers on the road’s shoulder pay more attention to elk than oncoming traffic. Be safe. Be considerate. Be the one who knows he or she is doing everything right.”

Roe said that the secret to maximizing your chances to see elk is to know where to go, when to go and what to do and what not to do when you get there. Also, it is important to make sure you have binoculars, spotting scopes, cameras and video cameras to enhance your viewing opportunities and to record your visit.

While there are plenty of restaurants and places to purchase refreshments, it is a good idea to bring along some snacks and water, especially on high-volume traffic days, because if you get a parking spot, you may not want to give it up, or if you get stuck in traffic, you’ll be covered. Also, make sure you check weather forecasts before departing, so you can dress accordingly.

“Being in at the right place at the right time is one of the most important factors that will influence whether you and your family will see elk,” said Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer Doty McDowell, whose district includes the agency’s official Elk Viewing Area on Winslow Hill in Benezette Township, Elk County. “Although you can go almost anytime throughout the year and at almost any time of the day, the best time to visit the elk range is from late summer through spring – with September and October being the top months, particularly for people who want to hear bulls bugle and watch them spar – during the first two hours after sunrise and the two hours before sunset. But there’s always a chance to see elk out and about because these massive animals have tremendous nutritional and varied habitat needs.”

Whenever large numbers of people converge in remote rural settings to view elk, they usually and immediately stress and congest the area’s roads, services and modern conveniences.

“It’s estimated 75,000 to 100,000 people visit Winslow Hill during the peak elk viewing months of September and October,” McDowell said. “But, imagine what it’s like for the homeowners in these areas who are forced to negotiate these inconveniences and deal with thousands of elk tourists every fall. It’s not a picnic for them, weekends in particular.

“There are plenty of things every elk enthusiast can do to help property owners, motorists, law enforcement officials, wildlife conservation officers and other elk tourists while out and about the elk range.”

The Game Commission offers a “Top Ten List of Things You Should Not Do” while visiting the elk range:

1.) Don’t stop on the road to watch elk;

2.) Don’t walk or park on private property – especially driveways – without permission;

3.) Don’t approach or attempt to pet elk ever;

4.) Don’t disturb elk or property owners by horn honking or yelling;

5.) Don’t feed elk, as it is illegal;

6.) Don’t litter and consider cleaning up what others may leave;

7.) Don’t be judgmental, enjoy yourself or just move to a place more to your liking;

8.) Don’t use profanity;

9.) Don’t be selfish, share good vistas and viewing blinds; and

10.) Don’t crowd others, wait your turn.

“Unless you’re visiting the elk range in other than peak viewing periods, you should expect to encounter some congestion of people/vehicles, because folks tend to congregate wherever elk gather and graze, or they can get close,” McDowell said. “Everyone who visits the state’s elk range is looking for a front-row seat to the action. Recognizing that, and remaining polite and considerate, will go a long way to ensuring this wonderful outdoors opportunity doesn’t become less than it should be for everyone who takes the time to come. And don’t forget, watch for elk and other wildlife crossing roads. Having too close of an encounter with an elk is something no motorist wants to do!”

McDowell noted that State Route 555 runs through the heart of Pennsylvania’s elk country, so whenever you’re on the road between Weedville and Driftwood, traveling through the scenic Bennett Branch of Sinnemahoning Creek corridor, you should keep an eye out for elk, especially around Caledonia, the lower end of the Quehanna Highway around Medix Run, Benezette and Dents Run.

“One of the best ways to learn your way around elk country is to visit the local stores and businesses that serve this area,” McDowell said. “The folks who run these establishments often have a good idea of where elk are – sometimes on a daily basis – and can surely direct you to places that aren’t covered in this guide or other ones. So stop by for lunch, stay overnight, or buy something. One of the best ways to get to know an area is to get to know the folks who live there.”

The Game Commission has posted on its website a video offering elk viewing tips and a sample of what visitors to the elk range can expect to see. To view this clip, as well as a brochure on elk viewing etiquette and other information about Pennsylvania’s elk herd, please go to the Game Commission’s website (, select “Hunting” in the left-hand column and then click on the photograph of the elk.

This summer, you have many choices. Here are some links and other resources for you to explore.

From the MAILBOX page:


lu-lu-shrine Liberty Pro Rodeo

Lu Lu Shrine Liberty Pro Rodeo in Plymouth Meeting


Pennsylvania High School Rodeo Association


Central Pennsylvania Youth Rodeo Association

Do you know of a rodeo association in Pennsylvania that we could list here? Please let us know by sending an email to Matt Holliday, editor. Thanks.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission recently released the bald eagle known as Y18 that was featured in the November/December 2008 issue of Pennsylvania Magazine. That article (a 2.6 MB .pdf file) is located HERE.

You can see a high quality version (click the high-quality link on the lower right of the video frame) on YOUTUBE at this LINK… The video is by the game commission, more of their videos can be found on this YOUTUBE page.

The eagle flies a bit and then lands and walks around, so there no soaring seen, but we do hear from Carol Holmgren of the Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.

–Matt Holliday, editor, Pennsylvania Magazine

LINKS TO SAMPLE ARTICLE .pdf FILES. You can either click on the links to load the PDF files in your browser window, or right click and select “save file to disk,” to DOWNLOAD the file to your computer.

You’ll need a PDF reader like Adobe Acrobat to be able to see the files once you download them. Most computers have one.

If you have trouble using this page, call 717-697-4660 or email [email protected].

NOSE ART by Doris Dumrauf, January/February 2008, file size 228 KB

PHOTO ESSAY SCENICS Photo Contest winners in our 2008 Scenics category (SEPT./OCT. 2008), file size 4 MB

HARMONY by Doris Dumrauf, July/August 2007, file size 2.4 MB

RIDE ALONG by Cindy Ross, November/December 2008, file size 424 KB

SUSTAINABLE LIVING EVENT by Sierra Gladfelter, September/October 2008, file size 88KB

BRISTOL DAY by Cindy Ross, September/October 2008, file size 1.3 MB

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By order of appearance in the magazine :



Longwood Gardens

David Wenzel Tree House in Scranton


Cracker Box in Warminster


Mütter Museum located at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia


Oliver Miller Homestead in South Park, Allegheny County

Woodville Plantation in Bridgeville

Old St. Luke’s Church in Carnegie

Mingo Creek Cemetery in Washington County, no Web site, located on Rt. 88.

Bradford House in Washington


Pennsylvania Conservation Corps


Gertrude Hawk Chocolates in Dunmore, Lackawanna County

THE DAY OF SPECIAL WHEAT by Loretta Riegel Deysher

Durham Township Historical Society (Grist mill history)


Morgan Log House in Landsdale, Montgomery County

REVIVING THE 1863 VIEW by James H. Shuey

Gettysburg National Military Park

DOWNLOAD PDF OF ARTICLE here: ride-along-nd08


24-hours with Allentown’s Central Fire Station

Text and photos by Cindy Ross

The living area in Allentown’s Central Firehouse feels like any bachelor or frat house. Men lounge on overstuffed chairs, watching sports on a wide-screen TV or playing computer games. In the kitchen, the cook throws spinning circles of dough into the air to make homemade strombolis.
Central Firehouse is one of six fire stations within the city limits that together serve 110,000 residents. That figure swells during the day when the city fills with transient workers. As the largest crehouse, Central has the most firefighting equipment, receives the most calls, and is centrally located “in the hood.”

Life doesn’t pick up in this neighborhood until after dark. In the warmer months, the firemen trade their easy chairs and wide screens for a bench chained to a post outside and watch the parade of humanity go by. It’s not uncommon to hear gunshots at some point from somewhere in the neighborhood.

For the next 12 hours, I will be joining the Central Firehouse as a “ride-along” and will accompany Battalion 3 on calls. I will see firsthand what life is like for inner-city professional firefighters. Capt. Joe Donmoyer, a friend of mine for many years, did the necessary paperwork to make tonight a reality for me.

The firefighters warn me that their shift is usually mysteriously dull whenever a ride-along is present. But in the next few hours, we would discover that what started out as a slow, routine night would quickly turn into the type of emergency response that crecghters only experience a few times in their careers.

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