Friday, December 2, 2011
In 1995 the Pennsylvania Game Commission celebrated its 100th anniversary. It was formed in 1895 when a law was passed authorizing the Governor to appoint six men to this new commission. These men were to be sportsmen and serve without salary and pay at their own expense. No money was appropriated to run this new commission, and many thought it would fail before it even got started.
The commission was very unpopular with some of the hunting public. No longer could a man hunt whatever or whenever he wanted. Now he had to obey certain laws and hunt only during the open season, and there were some animals he could not hunt at all. To say that these new game protectors were unpopular would be unjust; actually most were hated by the hunters. In the first year, 14 game protectors were shot at, seven were hit, and four killed.
The state's forests were all cut over and forest fires were a common thing. Gone were the elk, the bison, the passenger pigeon, and the beaver. The state's wildlife community was in deplorable condition and needed help, badly.
Today a Game Protector is called a Wildlife Conservation Officer. Although his job is still basically law enforcement, the type of work has changed drastically in the last 100 years.
Bill Bower is a retired Wildlife Conservation Officer for western Bradford County.
An admission donation of $6 for adults, $4 for SRAC members (free admission for students!) is requested. Free admission to the SRAC exhibit hall is included in this donation. For more information, visit www.SRACenter.org , email info@SRAcenter.org, or call the Center at 607-565-7960.