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  • #21
    The PGC Strikes Again


    There was another fiasco at the PGC. I couldn't resist.
    Enjoy.
    Jim Slinsky

    Column 396

    The PGC Strikes Again

    Whoever said “truth is stranger than fiction” must have been from Pennsylvania. More specifically, they must have had a working knowledge of the PA Game Commission’s (PGC) law enforcement practices to motivate them into that literary moment. I didn’t and couldn’t make this story up. It is far beyond my imaginary capabilities and fictional writing skills. Frankly, this entire story is literally bizarre.
    A few weeks ago Intell/New Era outdoor writer Ad Crable wrote a “feel good” column about Ms. Pati Mattrick of Elizabethtown, PA. Apparently, four-years ago after a severe storm she found a newborn finch on her property. Evidently, it fell from its’ nest during the storm and didn’t even sport any feathers. The poor creature was probably moments from death. Ms. Mattrick nursed the bird back to health and strength within her home and a great relationship was fostered. She appropriately named the bird “Stormgirl”.
    This typical story of great American compassion should have ended right there, but it didn’t. Actually, the real story was just about to begin. Someone at the PGC read Mr. Crable’s column. Allegedly armed with a search warrant and accompanied by at least three armed Elizabethtown police officers, the PGC paid Ms. Mattrick a visit. Ms. Mattrick states she was barricaded in a room while a WCO ran through her house attempting to catch “Stromgirl”. Of course, the house finch was confiscated.
    Honestly, I am almost at a loss for words. We have seen this behavior before and it never ceases to amaze us. Who could forget the Sandy Reynolds fiasco and her captive serval cats? She had a federal permit for the felines and was applying for a state permit. The PGC solved that problem by confiscating her cats. And then, there was ‘Nutkin”, the pet squirrel. The PGC attempted to grab that potential menace to society before that situation became cataclysmic. Fortunately, they were unsuccessful.
    The PGC has defended their actions by claiming finches are migratory birds and they would be jeopardizing their Pittman-Robertson (P-R) funding by not acting in a swift and decisive manner. Total nonsense. The PGC has been jeopardizing their P-R funding for decades by financing their hardwood timbering operations with P-R money instead of executing comprehensive habitat projects. They seem to be able to talk their way out of that situation year after year.
    Once again, there are lessons to be learned from this preposterous situation. I truly hope our legislators have finally realized that when authority is granted, discretion must be limited and controlled. So often in these “the law versus the will of the people” or “the law versus common sense” scenarios, it is the abuse of discretion that is the culprit. It is an unfortunate part of human nature to abuse power once it is granted. It is an unfortunate part of government to accumulate more power once authority has been granted.
    There were a number of amicable solutions to the “Stormgirl” situation besides invading Ms. Mattrick’s home and her privacy. Some have suggested she could have been issued a temporary wildlife rehabilitator permit. Others suggested a warning or a fine to make the PGC’s point. In either case the heavy-handed law enforcement, home-invasion route was overkill to say the least. This is a bird that probably doesn’t weigh an ounce and at four-years old probably has exceeded all normal life expectancy. No harm would have been done to society or our P-R funding by allowing Ms. Mattrick to keep a common finch that she saved from certain death until the end of its’ natural life.
    One must question if the management of the PGC put a great deal of thought into their actions. Certainly the bad publicity from this fiasco far outweighs the danger of allowing one citizen to keep a rescued house finch in their home. Once again, the core problem is government’s abuse of discretion that gives all branches of government a black eye.
    In what appears to be a temporary lapse of sanity and common sense, the PGC apparently based their decision on what they “can do” and not what they “should do”. It is the only logical explanation for executing a search warrant with four armed police officers to confiscate a three-inch native bird.
    Now, there is only one official act left for the PGC to execute. They should return Stormgirl to Ms. Mattrick and apologize.
    Jim Slinsky is the host and producer of the “Outdoor Talk Network”, a nationally syndicated, outdoor-talk radio program. For a station near you or to contact Jim, visit his website at www.outdoortalknetwork.com
    Saltwater Fishing Articles & More by Outdoor Writer Jerry LaBella
    http://www.jerrylabella.com/forums
    http://jerrylabella.com

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