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Scattershots (Sept. 5)

Sept. 15 is deadline for Bird Challenge

Bird watching is an activity that has been increasing in recent times. With more than 450 bird species in New York, it’s a great pastime that you can do alone or with friends and family. In an effort to encourage younger kids to become more involved with nature, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has started an I Bird NY Challenge for children age 16 and younger. Find 10 common bird species in New York by Sept, 15 and DEC will send you a certificate and a bracelet for taking the challenge. You will also be entered into a drawing for a pair of binoculars or spotting scope. They must be received by Sept. 30

You can download an I Bird NY Challenge form at https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/administration_pdf/ibirdchallenge.pdf and get things rolling as soon as possible to qualify for the drawing.

There is also a challenge for the more experienced birders: Find 10 birds of the 50 birds on a list. The experienced birder sheet can be downloaded from here: https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/ibirdnyexpchal.pdf.

Canada goose season underway

In an effort to help control resident Canada goose populations within the Empire State, an early September season has been established to help lower goose numbers to more acceptable levels. Currently, more than 200,000 have taken up residency in New York. A more acceptable number would be less than 85,000. The September season began last Saturday and continues through Sept. 25 in Western New York.

You must have a current hunting license along with a federal duck stamp (signed across the face of it), and a Harvest Information Program (HIP) number. During the early nuisance season, 15 birds per day is the harvest limit per hunter. There are also extended shooting hours and other special regulations in an effort to improve success rate. If you are hunting on private land, make sure you have the permission of the landowner. Pre-scouting is important if you want to be successful. Check out http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28888.html for more information.

Early bear seasons begin soon

Big game seasons in New York kick off with an early black bear season in the Catskills Region from Sept. 8 to 23 (part of the Southern Zone). An early bear season also runs in the Northern Zone from Sept. 15 to Oct. 12.

Residents and non-residents may take one bear per year. You may not  bait an area for bear. Find out more information at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7857.html.

Swiatkowski passes away at 65

The Lake Erie fishing community became a little smaller and quite a bit sadder when Capt. Phil Swiatkowski of Silver Creek passed away unexpectedly Saturday. The 65-year-old captain of Take Five Sportfishing was a staple around fishing and conservation circles. For each of the last 10 years, he was the chief cook for the popular VIP Lake Erie Experience Fishing Day in Dunkirk, a collaboration between the Fisheries Boards of Erie and Chautauqua counties. His secret fishing batter was unequaled.

Phil was an active member of many clubs and organizations. He was the current treasurer and past president of the Eastern Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, a sponsor of VIP Day. He was also a member of the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club, Evans Rod and Gun Club, East Aurora Fish and Game Club and the Southtowns Walleye Association of WNY to name but a few. May you rest in peace.

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