Small Game Declining in PA

As Pennsylvania's landscape changes so do the kinds of animals who live there. We may be seeing the last of the bobwhite quail and snowshoe hare. What is the future of Pennsylvania's small game species? The Allegheny Front's Deborah Weisberg has the story.

Read the transcript »Close the Transcript

Transcript

OPEN: As Pennsylvania's landscape changes so do the kinds of animals who live there. We may be seeing the last of the bobwhite quail and snowshoe hare. What is the future of Pennsylvania's small game species? Here's The Allegheny Front's Deborah Weisberg with the story.

DW: Aging forests and disappearing farmlands have taken a toll on Pennsylvania's small game species. Squirrels are thriving in the state's older woodlands, but ruffed grouse and woodcock are finding fewer young forests in which to colonize. Other species like rabbits, pheasants and quail need fields and brushy hedgerows for nesting. They are being lost to housing developments and intensive farming practices, according to Penn State wildlife ecologist Duane Diefenbach.

Diefenbach 1:15 Hayfields are cut earlier in the year which has caused problems with nesting songbirds. We are using more pesticides and herbicides, so there are less bugs and vegetation for animals to provide food for animals. So we've seen a general decline in species that are associated with agricultural habitats. 1:37

DW: Forest species have other problems. Most of Penn's Woods are old with red maple not red oak, now the dominant species. More than two million acres of forest are being managed by the state. Kim Steiner is a professor of forestry at Penn State

Steiner: Obviously, animals do eat red maple seeds and browse to some degree on red maple twigs and buds but red maple isn't as important as oak as a food source for wildlife.

DW: Judicious timbering is needed to satisfy and sustain multiple species. Since most of the state's forests are in private hands, that's a complex task. Here's Steiner.

Steiner: What we do and what other forestry faculties do around the country through their extension programs is try to educate land owners about how to do manage to achieve certain objectives and often times we'll try to promote certain objectives but in the end landowners have to make their own decisions.

For the Allegheny Front, I'm Deborah Weisberg