From Bats To Bass
Inside the Outdoors, July 01
, 2011

Every year, the Pennsylvania Game Commission seems to put out a story or two on bats. Recently the Commission is reaching out to residents to obtain assistance in what they refer to as a regional monitoring effort to collect bat maternity colony data this summer. As Jerry Feaser, publicist, explained it, “This monitoring is especially important due to the moralities in bat populations throughout the northeast United States, including Pennsylvania, being caused by White-Nose Syndrome (WNS).”

Calvin Butchkoski, Game Commission wildlife biologist explained, “WNS primarily kills during the winter, but the true impact of WNS on bat populations cannot be determined using estimates from winter hibernacula alone. Pennsylvanians can help us more fully gauge the impact of WNS on the landscape by host a bat count this summer. We are especially urging people who have ever conducted a bat count for the Game commission in the past to redo a count this year.”

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Keystone State Park has bat houses. I have encountered these creatures while fishing. They have a way of swooping down on me. I don’t know if that is a way of telling me they don’t like me standing along the banks of the lake or just a means of notification that they have awakened and want to be seen. In any case, they are there, lots of them for what that’s worth.

To obtain applications and information on how to participate, visit the Game Commission’s website ( and click on “Wildlife” in the menu bar at the top of the homepage, scroll down and choose “Pennsylvania Bats” in the listing. Forms on the website guide interested participants through the steps of timing, conducting a survey and submitting their findings to the Game Commission. Scout groups, 4-H clubs, local environmental organizations, and individual homeowners can all participate in this important effort.


Sometime back, I had discussed a number of times the eagles that have been seen in the area, along the medium near the bread and breakfast lake between Latrobe and Ligonier, at Keystone State Park and flying upstream adjacent to the Creekside Path below Avenue D in Latrobe.

Recently, one of my readers sent me some data on the bird which he found interesting and thought my readership may do the same. So, following is what was sent.

“The eagle has the longest life-span among birds. It can live up to 70 years. While in its 40’s, its long and flexible talons can no longer grab prey that serves as food. Its long and sharp beak becomes bent. Its old-aged and heavy wings, due to their thick feathers, become stuck to its check and make it difficult to fly. Then the eagle has to make a tough decision – die or go through a painful process of change which lasts 150 days. This requires that the bird fly to a mountain top and sit on its nest. There the eagle knocks its beak against a rock until it plucks it out. After plucking it out, it will wait for a new beak to grow back and then will pluck out its talons. When its new talons grow back, the eagle starts plucking its old-aged feathers. And after five months, the eagle takes its famous flight of rebirth and lives for 30 more years.”

In addition, he added a few more notes of interest that even I didn’t know.

“When it rains, when most birds head for shelter, the eagle is the only bird that, in order to avoid the rain, starts flying above the clouds."

Here an amazing fact. “The eagle can probably identify a rabbit moving almost a mile away. That means that an eagle flying at an altitude of 1000 feet over open country could spot prey over an area of almost three square miles from a fixed position.”


Finally, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has posted on its website some bass related information.

First of all, an unidentified angler caught a bass at Keystone State Park Lake in excess of six pounds. Now, that is a pretty hefty fish! Another fisherman has landed a lunker from Loyalhanna Dam weighing as much as five pounds.

And on the lower Loyalhanna Creek, an angler struck pay dirt when he hauled in a large walleye.

One fellow cornered me at Subway to tell me he caught a large bass at Mammoth Dam on a plastic salamander. He showed me a picture and its was definitely a trophy.

It sounds as though all is well on the southwestern front.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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