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BACKYARD BIRD COUNT HARNESSES TECHNOLOGY FOR YEAR-ROUND NUMBER-CRUNCHING

Bird watchers stack up notes and reminders of sightings each year for Cornell University's annual Great Backyard Bird Count sometime in mid-February.

This year that count went from Feb. 14 to 17, which generated information on everything from bird numbers dynamics to documenting "a regional decline of at least one bird species that may be the result of West Nile virus."

Now, bird counters can enter data all year long, with the introduction of a new Cornell and Audubon "eBird" reporting system, which allows participants to record observations into an online database.

To learn more about this new system, see www.birdsource.org/gbbc. Or, write to: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Ithaca, N.Y. 14850 or National Audubon Society Science Office, 545 Almshouse Road, Ivyland, Pa. 18974.

Keystone elk draw

Pennsylvania's elk drawing gives non-resident hunters a greater chance at receiving a tag this coming season.

In 2001 and 2002, non-resident tag issuances were based on the percent of non-resident licenses sold, which only resulted in licenses to five non-resident hunters. The Pennsylvania Game Commission issued 30 licenses in 2001 and 70 in 2002.

This year, PGC will issue 100 licenses, with non-resident hunters given an equal status in a random drawing with resident applicants.

New this year, future drawing preference will be given to applicants who did not get their $10 application drawn. Chosen residents pay an additional $25 for an elk license; non-resident hunters remit $250.

PGC applies the first $100,000 in fees to habitat acquisition, and matching funds come from Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Safari Club, National Wild Turkey Federation, Consolidated Gas and Sinnemahoning Sportsmen's Club.

For an application form, write: PGC, Elk License Application, Box 61890, Harrisburg, Pa. 17106-1890, or see the Web site: www.pgc.state.pa.us.

Wildlife lessons

Eve Fertig, noted wildlife rehabilitator and president of Enchanted Forest Wildlife Sanctuary in Alden, and her husband, Norman, put together interesting and informative programs on "Saving Endangered Species" and "Caring for Injured and Orphaned Wildlife" at your place or theirs.

The Fertigs maintain a sanctuary at 11380 Cary Road, where they rescue songbirds, raptors and mammals and release them into the wilds after care; permanently disabled creatures spend their remaining time at the Sanctuary. To arrange for a presentation, call 681-5918.

Maryland crossbow decision

Maryland Department of Natural Resources officials selected an early- and late-segment crossbow season for the 2003-04 hunting season, Oct. 1-15 and Jan. 15-31, 2004, and throughout all firearms seasons, excluding archery season. A resident or non-resident hunter 65 or older can hunt with a crossbow in Maryland throughout all open hunting seasons.
e-mail: wille@pce.net.

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