PA Game Commission Changes Course on Hunting in Frein Search Area

Disappoint abounds, but the Pennsylvania Game Commission is not to blame.

The PGC released this statement on Tuesday, September 30, 2014:
PGC URGES CAUTION WHEN GOING AFIELD WHILE MANHUNT CONTINUES
            DALLAS – Due to the ongoing manhunt for fugitive Eric Frein, the Northeast Region Office of the Pennsylvania Game Commission advises hunters to anticipate police presence in parts of Monroe and Pike counties, and to plan accordingly.
            The Pennsylvania statewide archery deer season starts Saturday, Oct. 4, and many hunters take to the woods prior to the opening day in order to scout for deer and place tree stands.
            Pennsylvania State Police officials identified areas of potential continuing police activity to include Price, Barrett, and Paradise townships in Monroe County; and Blooming Grove, Porter, and Lehman townships in Pike County.             
            “Hunters should use common sense and good judgment until this situation is resolved,” said the Game Commission’s Northeast Region Director Daniel Figured. “Our advice is to avoid wooded areas with obvious police activity and use extreme caution when afield, especially in Monroe and Pike counties.”
            While neither the State Police nor the Game Commission is presently restricting hunting activity in the townships identified, hunters should anticipate encountering law-enforcement personnel conducting search operations in those areas.
“It is imperative that hunters do not interfere with the search operation,” said Figured.
            If a person chooses to hunt in these townships, the Game Commission strongly recommends wearing fluorescent orange material on their head, chest, and back, whether moving or in a stationary position.
“To avoid potential misidentification, make it obvious that you are a hunter,” Figured said.
                The Game Commission and State Police are urging anyone that witnesses suspicious activity or discovers possible evidence related to the fugitive Eric Frein to call the PSP TIP Line at 1-866-326-7256.
Then hours later, the PGC released this statement on October 1, only a couple of days before opening day:
MANHUNT PLACES HUNTING SEASONS ON HOLD
Game Commission executive order temporarily halts hunting and trapping in seven townships.

          The Pennsylvania Game Commission has temporarily closed all hunting and trapping seasons within seven townships in northeastern Pennsylvania, where the search continues for a fugitive wanted in the shooting death of a state police trooper.
          
Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough today issued an executive order to close temporarily the hunting and trapping seasons within Price, Barrett and Paradise townships in Monroe County; and Blooming Grove, Porter, Lehman and Greene townships in Pike County.
          
The townships all are within Wildlife Management Unit 3D.
          
The closure affects all private and public lands, including the portions of State Game Lands 180, 183 and 221 located within those townships. Those portions of game lands are closed to all public access while the executive order is in effect.
          
Hunting and trapping seasons will remain closed in the identified townships until the executive order is lifted, which will be announced by the Game Commission in a statewide news release that will be posted on the agency’s website at the time it is issued.
          
The closure was initiated after the Pennsylvania State Police advised on Tuesday that troopers who are part of the search for fugitive Eric Frein had uncovered explosive devices that apparently were left behind in wooded areas by the fugitive, and would pose an obvious danger to anyone who would encounter them.
          
Hough said the discovery of the devices, and the danger associated with the search effort in general, would pose too great a risk to hunters, trappers and members of the general public.
          
“While we realize this temporary closure might disappoint some of the hunters and trappers it affects, we’re certain, too, they understand the gravity of the situation, as well as the danger in allowing the seasons to continue as scheduled, given this new information,” Hough said. “Plenty of good hunting and trapping opportunities remain outside of the temporarily closed area, and we need hunters to readily adjust their plans to help bring resolution to this case and see that justice is served.”
          
Frein is wanted in the Sept. 12 ambush-shooting death of Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Bryon Dickson II outside the state police barracks in Blooming Grove, Pike County. Trooper Alex Douglass was wounded in the attack. The search for Frein has continued since, and police recently discovered explosive devices – at least one of which was attached to a trip wire – in the area they were searching.
          
The Pennsylvania Game and Wildlife Code authorizes the Game Commission to close any hunting or trapping season, or otherwise take necessary action, to assure the purposes of the code, including assuring the health and safety of the persons who hunt or take game and wildlife.
          
The Game Commission earlier this week issued an advisory to those who might be planning to hunt in the area of the search, and indicated that the seasons would continue as scheduled, but the recent findings by state police changed the circumstances.
          
Game Commissioner James J. Delaney Jr. , who represents Pike, Monroe and other northeastern Pennsylvania counties as part of the eight-member board that sets policy for the Game Commission, said the temporary closure is supported in full by the commissioners and is necessary given the totality of circumstances.
          
By closing the hunting seasons in the area of the search, the Game Commission hopes to remove any risk to human safety, and ensure there will be no interference in the effort to apprehend Frein.
          
“The suspect has demonstrated a disregard for human life,” Delaney said, “The safety of the law-enforcement officers who are part of the search, as well as that of the sporting public, must take precedence here.”
The change, due to pipe bombs discovered that day, is understandable. It's based on new information that was revealed shortly after the initial release.

All Hail Bunjie!

Rich Wilson