Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Winter Wildlife With The 7D Mark II

Today's post features some photos taken with the new Canon 7D MK II, which I have been informally testing for the last few weeks.  Even with the big glass it is often hard to get close enough for frame filling photos of wildlife without using a blind, so all of today's images are cropped substantially. The 7D MK III has a 20 MP un-cropped image.  The photo below is cropped to 6.3 mega pixel, which is the same size as my first digital camera, a Canon 10D, would produce utilizing the full image.

Tufted Titmouse: Canon 7D MK II-Canon 600mm f 4.0 IS L-ISO 200-1/1600 sec- f 5.0

The photo of the spike buck is a 6.7 MP vertical crop pulled from a horizontal frame.

Spike Buck: Canon 7D MK II-Canon 300mm f 2.8 L  IS -ISO 200-1/320 sec- f 5.0
For last I will post two photos of mature Eastern Wild Turkey gobblers huddled on a distant hillside during a snow-squall.  This would have been a good situation for the 600mm lens, but I didn't have it along that day so I used the biggest available, which was the 500mm. Both are 6.3 megapixel crops.

Gobblers: Canon 7D MK II-Canon 500mm f 4.0 IS L-ISO 400-1/800 sec- f 5.0
Gobblers: Canon 7D MK II-Canon 500mm f 4.0 IS L -ISO 400-1/800 sec- f 5.0
Below is an un-cropped version of the the last shot.

Gobblers: Canon 7D MK II-Canon 500mm f 4.0 IS L -ISO 400-1/800 sec- f 5.0
So what do I think of the 7D MK II so far?  It is too early too tell, but after getting most of my lenses micro-adjusted with it I find I am using it quite a bit.  I am not at all sure at this point that there is any significant gain in image quality over the 70D, but I do prefer it for shooting still photographs as the auto-focus seems to be very accurate and I prefer the layout of the focusing points in the finder as well.  I have not tried the camera for shooting video as of yet, but the lack of a touch-screen or rotating LCD is a big minus for shooting video. 

 I do not pretend to be a DSLR expert and do not intend to do intense testing with the camera in a short period of time, but rather my approach is to do some shooting as needed to micro-adjust the camera and to give it a fair trial in actual field use.  Over time it will be interesting to see which camera I gravitate to for most of my use.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

State Game Lands Permit Proposal Removed From Agenda

The Pennsylvania Game Commission in Harrisburg, today announced that they have removed the controversial State Game Lands Permit Proposal from the agenda for the upcoming PGC Board meeting that begins Sunday.

January 22, 2015
Release #003-15
 State Game Lands Permit Proposal Removed From Agenda

The News Release quotes President of The Board of Commissioners, Robert W. Schlemmer as saying, " the board received hundreds of public comments about the proposal and wants to allow more time to properly consult with hunters, conservation partners and elected officials about it".  To read the release in its' entirety click the above link.

Note that there is no guarantee that another attempt will not be made to bring these regulations or some other form of them to vote in the future. 

SNP CWD Plan Comment Period Extended-Meeting In Front Royal Tonight

Due to a glitch in communications I was not aware that the period for commenting on Shenandoah National Park's CWD Management Plan had been extended until this morning.  A public meeting will be held this evening  at the Warren County Community Center, 538 Villa Avenue in Front Royal, Va. Read about it in the Shenandoah National Park News release below:

This also extends the time for public comment until January 30, 2015.  The additional public meeting was scheduled and the comment period extended to address concerns by several landowners who own land adjacent to the park about the proposed CWD plan.

Shenandoah National Park Holds Additional Public Meeting and Reopens Comment Period for ChronicWasting Disease Management Plan 

 Date: January 7, 2015 In response to a request from several park neighbors, Shenandoah National Park will hold an additional public meeting on the park's proposed Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) response plan.The meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 22, 2015, at the Warren County Community Center, 538 Villa Avenue.Dr. Jenny Powers, National Park Service Wildlife Veterinarian and CWD expert, will make a presentation on the history and biology of the disease.Jim Schaberl, Shenandoah National Park Chief of Natural and Cultural Resources, will present the park's proposed plan.Park Superintendent Jim Northup will be available to answer questions. Experts from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will also be available to answer questions on CWD actions outside the park. Following the meeting, the park will reopen the comment period for eight days.

Shenandoah National Park management is proposing to amend the approved 2013Chronic Wasting Disease Detection/Assessment Plan, Shenandoah National Park to include response actions necessary to address chronic wasting disease (CWD) within five miles of or within the park. Although CWD has not been detected in the park, it has been documented approximately 12 miles from the park's northern boundary. The spread of the disease into the park appears imminent, and park staff has determined that a plan for managing the disease is needed. CWD is a serious, non-native disease which threatens deer populations, related natural resources, and visitor experiences at Shenandoah National Park. The proposed plan amendment calls for the lethal removal of deer within specific developed areas of Shenandoah National Park to reduce the likelihood of CWD establishment and decrease the disease's progression within the park.

The draft amendment/EA for this project has been prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). A series of public meetings on this topic were held in November, and the public was given an opportunity to comment during a 30-day comment period which ended on December 10, 2014.With the addition of another meeting the public will now be able to comment again on the draft plan from January 22 until January 30, 2015.The draft plan is available for review and comment online at may also be sent to: Superintendent, Shenandoah National Park, Attn: CWD Response Amendment/EA, 3655 US Highway, 211 East, Luray, VA 22835.

For more information about Chronic Wasting Disease, please visit

Friday, January 16, 2015

PGC Considers Use Ban-Part II

The Future In Pennsylvania If Proposed Use Regulations Are Approved

First off I wish to thank Donna and Woody Meristem for their comments on yesterday's post.

Donna said, "Those who want to have their opinions heard can send comments to to be shared with the board. However, do it quickly, as they meet on January 25. This would really affect photographers, bird watchers, hikers, and all nature lovers. Offer to pay for a non-hunting use permit, etc. Losing access to State Game Lands for nearly half the year would hurt many of us".

Woody Meristem's said, "A user fee to contribute to the management and acquisition of State Game Lands would be very appropriate. But to close SGLs to everyone but hunters and trappers for almost half the year is something else entirely".

"If the PGC wants to turn a horde of non-hunters into anti-hunters and as a bonus get a lot of additional land posted against hunting this is the way to do it. It's hard to think of a better way to get bad PR for the agency, but I'm sure they could come up with some if they tried".

I think both comments are right on the money.  Not only that but concerned citizens should make their thoughts known to their state senator and representative and the governor's office as well.
Remember this is the e-mail address to comment directly to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Also I want to point out that Woody Meristem writes an excellent Blog, "In Forest and Field". He addresses conservation funding issues  In his November 30th article, "It's Time For A Change",    by pointing out that,"wildlife is a public resource that belongs to all the citizens of Pennsylvania whether they are hunters, non-hunters or anti-hunters".  I highly recommend that you check his blog out and be sure to read this timely and extremely important  post.

I submitted a comment today to the Pennsylvania Game Commission which is posted  in its' entirety below:

My Comment

I am writing to comment on the proposed rule changes to Code §§ 135.41 and the new Chapter 147, Subchapter AA.
I am commenting both from the standpoint of a private citizen and the perspective of a retired Game Lands Maintenance Supervisor, and DWCO. I have no problem with either buying a hunting license or paying a use fee of commensurate cost for the privilege of using State Game Lands. I do find it very distressing that the Commission would consider banning the presence of those not engaged in hunting from the game lands during the periods that the proposed regulation states.

From a law enforcement perspective it seems the thing would be a nightmare unless very specific definitions of unlawful behavior were formulated. Most objectionable is the "Hike on foot" part . Does the Commission seriously plan to make it illegal for one to walk on any game lands during the times in question unless they are hunting or trapping? If a properly licensed hunter fills their deer tag/tags will they still be allowed to enter game lands unless they are actively assisting someone in hunting? There is a lot that is not spelled out here--what if one is properly licensed, but hunts only in rifle deer season--will they be permitted to scout before season without being actively involved in hunting another species? If they have a valid hunting license, will they be arrested if they carry a camera and tripod instead of a hunting weapon?
While the game lands may have been mostly bought with hunting license dollars a lot has been contributed by groups such as the Richard King Mellon Foundation, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, and The Rocky Mountain Elk foundation so it is not all a one-way street. In addition it receives a very favorable deal on taxation of property with payment in lieu of taxes that if I understand correctly is generally less than tax rates on similar types of property. In addition hunters have the use of DCNR lands which are not paid for or maintained by hunting license dollars, yet it appears we want to repay this by severely restricting the ability of the general public to access game lands.

Has anyone stopped to consider the potential this has to damage the image of the Commission in the eyes of the general public?

I thank you for your consideration and for the opportunity to comment. I hope the Pennsylvania Game Commission will not follow the rash, draconian course of action that the proposal seems to set forth, but rather work together will all groups concerned for the benefit of wildlife and wild lands.

Willard C. Hill

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.