2019-03-16 / Outdoors

Wolf Tracks

Outdoor Columnist
Dave Wolf

Pennsylvania Trout Unlimited is calling for changes in some of the trout-stocking policies of the Pa. Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC).

This approach could set the stage for managing trout populations on a watershed level, rather than by the current method of basing management decisions on surveys of sections alone.

TU believes that wild trout populations are not being accurately documented due to surveys being conducted only in mid-summer. The organization believes that migratory wild trout populations should be identified, and then protected, when they are seeking thermal refuge during the spawning season.

“Acknowledging PFBC’s classification system of Pennsylvania’s wild trout waters, we support termination of all stocking in Class A, Class B, and Class C waters,” TU explained. “Instead, we support actions directed at enhancing those populations.”


Many mallard ducks hunker down and ride out the winter in their Pennsylvania habitat, as long as their water source doesn’t freeze over. These “dabblers” are among the most colorful and fascinating species of wildlife common to the Pennsylvania Wilds. Many mallard ducks hunker down and ride out the winter in their Pennsylvania habitat, as long as their water source doesn’t freeze over. These “dabblers” are among the most colorful and fascinating species of wildlife common to the Pennsylvania Wilds. TU also recommends periodic resurveying of Class B, Class C, and Class D waters to determine if changes or improvements in habitat or water quality may be appropriate to enhance the wild trout population.

In addition, TU suggests the stocking of sterile rainbow trout (triploids) as a potential method of reducing or discontinuing the stocking of hatchery brook, brown, and non-sterile rainbow trout species.

“Not stocking brooks, browns, and non-sterile rainbows will allow for wild populations of both brook and brown trout to be more accurately assessed -- and the chance of introducing ‘species-specific’ diseases will be greatly reduced,” the organization pointed out.

Waters would be selected for introduction of triploids for a trial period, with data gathered for evaluation of the impacts.

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Many look at ducks as a harbinger of spring, so they may be surprised to see mallards waddling on the ice or swimming in pockets of water at this time of year.

Mallards born in Pennsylvania typically remain in the area unless their water source freezes for the winter. They then migrate to southern parts of the state and to Maryland or the Chesapeake Bay.

Mallards are so plentiful that many overlook them, but these ducks with their colorful feathers are as beautiful as other any other species. Males have a dark, iridescent green head, with a bright yellow bill. The gray body is sandwiched between a brown breast and black rear.

Females and juveniles are mottled brown with orange-brown bills. Both sexes have a white-bordered, blue “speculum” patch in their wings.

Mallards are known as a “dabbling duck.” They feed in the water by tipping forward, and grazing on underwater plants, rarely diving. They normally are a very tame duck, especially in city ponds, often gathering together with other mallards, and a few different species of dabbling ducks.

Although the species is plentiful, numbering around 200,000 in Pennsylvania, one threat to its population is hybridization with other ducks.

(Dave Wolf can be reached by email at wolfang418@msn.com.)

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