Annual Report 2007-2008 - 15

thirty owlets were banded at 29 sites and feathers were collected for a DNA study by York College. The Northwest Region’s diversity biologist initiated a study of the common nighthawk. Nighthawks, like whip-poor-wills, are nightjars — nocturnal birds with flat heads and tiny bills, but huge mouths that open far back to capture insects while in flight. Nighthawks have been declining both as migrants and as breeders in Pennsylvania. They do not build nests; two eggs are laid directly on the ground or on a gravel roof. During the initiative’s first nesting season, in the summer of 2007, the biologist and volunteers checked 23 artificial nest pads and 54 roofs in Erie, Meadville, Oil City and Warren, but no nests were found. However, road surveys confirmed the presence of nighthawks in Erie and Meadville and there were anecdotal reports from Oil City and Warren. The Private Landowner Assistance Program (PLAP) provides a technical resource for landowners wishing to manage their properties for nearly 100 bird and mammal species of concern found throughout the state. After visiting the property of an interested landowner and discussing the owner’s objectives, the regional wildlife diversity biologist develops a management plan that is habitat based and focuses on both species of concern and the landowner’s goals. During FY 2007-08, private landowner consultations resulted in more than 150 plans covering nearly 17,000 acres. Regional diversity biologists are also instrumental in comprehensive planning for state game lands, providing general ecology habitat relationships and habitat treatments that can be used to enhance habitat for species of concern. Acquire, protect, maintain and enhance an array of habitats on public and private lands. The Game Commission’s public access program is being upgraded to increase its visibility and utility for hunters and trappers and make it more flexible for landowners. There are more than 3.6 million acres of private land open to public hunting in the PGC’s Farm Game, Safety Zone and Forest Game programs. The PGC provides multiple services on private lands through the Farm Game and Safety Zone Cooperative programs. The following habitat enhancements occurred on these lands: • Land Managers and Food & Cover Crews made 27,798 cooperator contacts regarding habitat and hunting issues on their lands, an increase of 13,716 over the previous year. • The Commission provided 459,410 tree and shrub seedlings to cooperators for habitat improvement. • Commission staff performed 46 acres of border cuts. • Food & Cover Corps crews placed 1,113 waterfowl nesting structures and 3,590 other types of nesting structures on private lands. • Mixed seed packets were provided to cooperators. • The pruning or releasing of 105 separate fruit trees was performed on old orchards. • Warm season grasses were planted on 222 acres of marginal pasture or cropland. • Habitat improvements such as wetland creation, food plot construction or specific wildlife management plan development occurred on 440 acres. To further improve habitat on private land, there are currently five biologists working in the regions who are funded by the State Wildlife Grants and Landowner Incentive Programs. Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Grant Funding provided in fisJANUARY 2009 15

Annual Report 2007-2008

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Annual Report 2007-2008

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