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DEC officer, trapper reap awards

Two dogged outdoors individuals will soon receive awards for their outstanding efforts.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Officer James D. Hunt has been named Northeast Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs Association (NECLECA) "2008 New York Officer of the Year."

Region 9 Capt. David W. Bennett announced Hunt's selection for this prestigious NECLECA honor. Bennett cited Hunt's many assets as an ECO in the region since 1999.

Hunt, an inveterate student as well as field officer, successfully completed extensive advance training, including certification as a K9 Handler in 2004. He and his "partner" Matz, a trained police dog, have participated in several investigations that resulted in locating evidence and prosecution of illegal fish and wildlife and hunting-related shooting offenses.

Hunt and Matz received the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs' Public Servant award for 2008. Along with patrol duty, Hunt participates in community service presentations and sportsman certification classes. He also worked extensively to establish the Wyoming County Youth Waterfowl Hunt.

Hunt will formally accept his award during a NECLECA gathering.

Rich Penoyer of Cheektowaga will receive the Erie County Trappers Association (ECTA) Trapper of the Year award during the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs banquet on March 7.

Patti Wattengel, ECTA awards chairwoman, noted that Penoyer volunteers his time at club functions such as the county fair and WNY Expo booths, Adopt-A-Highway pick-up work and other events.

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Seize the steelie day

The big day is almost here already -- the Annual Roger Tobey Memorial Steelhead Contest. Each year, Niagara River Angler Association (NRAA) members set up at Lewiston Landing on a Saturday in mid-February to weigh in the three largest steelhead trout caught from the Niagara River, Lake Ontario and its tributaries.

This year, steelheaders start their searching at sunrise Feb. 21. The competition goes to 2 p.m., with winners announced at Lewiston Fire Hall during a luncheon/dinner. Registrations in by next Sunday enter an early-bird drawing. Entrance fee is $35. For details, call 946-6811.

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YES Summit

The National Rifle Association offers kids a free Youth Education Summit (YES) to selected high school sophomores and juniors. The summit, held in Washington, D.C., July 6-12, provides youths with an eye-opening perspective on American history while observing our country's political process at work.

Applicants must submit a completed YES application form, a high school transcript, a three-page essay on the Second Amendment, a one-page personal statement, and three letters of recommendation.

Entrants must apply no later than March 2. For details, call (800) 672-3888, ext. 1353, or go to: nrafoundation.org/yes/application.asp.

e-mail: willodrs@buffnews.com

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